Stroud’s most local organic wine

quoins orion

For over 5 years now, Stroudco has been offering wine from Three Choirs which is our most local vineyard.  However as Stroudco is a co-operative run jointly by its shoppers and producers, when a group of shoppers put in a request for some ORGANIC local wine we were on a mission!  A group of shoppers from Stroudco Food Hub recently went to sample the fare at Quoins vineyard in Bradford-on-Avon.    They were looking for the most local source of organic wine and were very pleased with the results.  Quoins have been growing vines and developing their wines for over 12 years and have won several awards.  Organically certified by the Soil Association these wines contain very low levels of sulphites and are suitable for vegans.  Stroudco shopper Gez Caldwell said ‘I was very pleasantly surprised to find that UK wine could taste as good as anything I have had from Europe or Australia.  It is great that it is so local and I can have it delivered to my door each week by Stroudco’

Alan Chubb has been growing vines and making wine at Quoins vineyard for 15 years.  Alan sells some of his wine through supermarkets, but finds their buying policies and mark-ups very restrictive and prefers to sell through independent outlets.  Stroudco’s price of £9.99 per bottle compares to the Waitrose price of £12.99 for exactly the same bottle see http://www.waitrosecellar.com/all-wines/wine-type/white-wine/quoins-organic-vineyard-orion

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The Future of Food

We would like to invite everyone to ‘The Future of Food’ at the The Lansdown Hall, Stroud GL5 1BB on Sunday 22nd February 7pm-9pm.  This is a joint event with Transition Stroud and will look at how Stroudco contributes to the global need for more sustainable food systems.  It will be an opportunity to hear about the growth of Stroudco, its contribution to the Open Food Network and how we can all help to build a more resilient local food economy through the shopping choices we make.

All welcome.

No entry fee.

For more details phone 01453 840037 or info@stroudco.org.uk

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Notes from Stroudco planning meeting and AGM 29/1/15

42 people participated in the meeting:

  • Producers (including Jonathan Crump selling cheese, Tasty selling cakes and preserves and Goat Maid Soaps),
  • Shoppers
  • Helpers
  • Management group
  • and other people interested in Stroudco.

We had a series of very brief presentations covering:

  1. History of Stroudco and Cardiff University research
  2. Stroudco finances and approval of accounts
  3. What is going well and what are the challenges for Stroudco
  4. How you can help Stroudco
  5. Stroudco and Open Food Network – the new software we are developing to update the Stroudco website
  6. Stroudco supporting GROWN – a new local food retail operation which will support Stroudco
  7. Cotswold Choice – a local food branding programme

There was then a brief question and answer session before we split into small groups to discuss:

  1. What are the priorities for Stroudco in the coming year?
  2. What can you do to help?
  3. What does the management group need to focus on?

These are the notes from those discussions:

What are the priorities for Stroudco in the coming year?

  • Coping with getting bigger
  • More volunteers
  • Danger of turning customers away because too big
  • Classroom is not big enough for sorting – need new system of operation for packing
  • New premises
  • Hubs in other areas – eg Gloucester, Nailsworth
  • Stabilise Stroudco – maybe by reducing number of shoppers or stopping orders once weekly limit is reached
  • Pay proper money – run as a business
  • Decide how big we want to be – what is the optimum size?
  • Decide if we want to increase the size of the storage and order processing space – model – scalability
  • From a producer’s point of view what is the optimum economy of scale – minimum value to make it viable?
  • Get new software system bedded in
  • Keep momentum – Stroud shop, other hubs

What can we do to help?

  • Put fresh eyes over current process – to help organise things better/more efficient
  • Buy more
  • Get more involved
  • Finding a new place to store the good
  • More volunteers
  • Suppliers could help with testing of the new software – engage with updating info
  • More volunteers to help with order fulfilment
  • Help with marketing, telling stories, social networking
  • More publicity e.g. Stroud Life

What does the management group need to focus on?

  • Work smarter not harder – efficiency
  • Satellite groups – deliveries to 3 or 4 outlying areas – perhaps leading to other hubs
  • Cashes Green community centre
  • Nailsworth warehouse
  • Go back to Parliament School and use Crockett’s new shop in Stroud
  • Get help from Stroud Council for premises
  • Big freezer and big fridge
  • Storage

We then confirmed the election of directors – Sarah Holder will stand down and Crockett Cresswell will stand.

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Tasty new producer at Stroudco

Welcoming brand new Stroudco producers Stephanie and  Robert Blackburn who have a business called ‘Tasty’.

Robert was involved in a car accident meaning that he could not continue in his chosen profession. He decided to make some fudge from an old family recipe handed down to him. He received amazing feedback from his friends, telling him it was so good that he should sell it, so he did.

Robert decided to start selling through the Country Markets Co-Operative with Stephanie helping him on the stall.  Soon, Robert was also producing a range of jams including his Mothers Povidle, meaning ‘Plum Stew’, which is an Eastern European low sugar Plum Jam.  Many of Robert’s customers from places in Eastern Europe say it reminds them of home.  Robert’s aunt in Australia also sent him a recipe for Red Tomato Marmalade, which is a sweet marmalade, he was pleasantly surprised at how good it is and now, so are many of his customers.

Stephanie took over running the stall due to high demand and Robert spent his time cooking.  Stephanie is gluten-intolerant and other customers started to ask if Robert could make gluten-free products and so his range began to increase.  Robert started to introduce dairy-free cakes and this eventually led to a ‘NO slice’ which is a gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan product with no added sugar.  He also went on to create a spiced ‘NO’ cake bar and at the Christmas period turned it into a Christmas cake using dairy-free icing.

Stephanie and Robert left the Country Markets cooperative in August to set up on their own, with Robert cooking and Stephanie selling.  They tried to come up with numerous names for their business but none sounded right to them until their customers kept coming back with how ‘tasty’ the products were and so the name was born.

‘Tasty’ pride themselves on producing home cooked food using fresh ingredients with no additives, colouring or preservatives. They hope that you find their products exciting, tasty and different. Robert promises to continue to develop recipes and continue to find new and interesting food products.

To see the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a printable catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

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Come and help plan the future of your Food Hub

Everyone is welcome to come to Stroud Brewery next Thursday 29th January to join our free planning meeting, discuss how to make the most of the success of Stroudco and manage its growing pains.  Stroudco has been growing steadily over recent months and we are now at the limits of the facilities we have at Stroud Valleys school.  As we are a not-for-profit social enterprise we will be looking at various ways forward including supporting other community groups to set up similar operations around Stroud.  CADCO Food Hub is already in the planning stages and hopes to start providing a similar service in Cam and Dursley later this year.

Stroudco is managed as a co-operative with the shoppers and the producers jointly owning and managing the business.  This will be a chance for everyone to chip in their ideas for the future of this social enterprise.

Following the success of our High Street pop-up shop on Goodwill evening, where many of our producers sold out all their stock, this will be another opportunity to buy direct from some of the Stroudco producers who will be there not only to contribute to the planning process but also to sell their wares and talk to people about their products.  There will be a definite ‘goaty’ theme this time with Lizzie Dyer from Just Kidding offering a range of mouth-watering cuts of kid meat which has been very popular amongst Stroudco shoppers.  Some say it is even richer and meatier than spring lamb and is much healthier than all our regular meats, being higher in protein and iron and lower in fat (especially saturated fats) than lamb, beef, pork or chicken and lower in cholesterol than any of these red meats.

Marie Yates from Goat Made Soaps will be bringing along her amazing range of soaps made from surplus milk from their goats in Thrupp.  A Stroudco shopper recently tweeted “We are in raptures over the Mint and Rosemary goat soap.  Such a fresh smell to wake up to, or to wash away the rammel of the day.  It has broken my son’s cold and the creamy lather with the mint scent is an excellent shampoo.  He smells edible!!  Try these soaps. You will be regularly buying them from now on.”

The meeting will also be an opportunity to find out more about the new Stroudco software which is in development.  One of the development team will be talking about his work with the Australians who have been piloting the Open Food Network and how the OFN software will revolutionise not only the Stroudco shopping experience but also the ease with which other communities around Storud can set up their own food hubs which can then cross-trade with Stroudco and make it even easier for local food and drink producers to sell direct to shoppers and/or through community food hubs.

Please come along to the meeting on Thursday 29th January from 8 to 9.30pm at Stroud Brewery, Hope Mill Lane – off the Cirencester Road GL5 2BU.  There is no entry fee.  To see the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a printable catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

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Kate is ‘in raptures’ about the Stroudco soap

Here is what she emailed us about the Goat Made soap she bought through Stroudco: soap “We are in raptures over the Mint and Rosemary goat soap. Such a fresh smell to wake up to, or to wash away the rammel of the day.  It has broken my son’s cold and the creamy lather with the mint scent is an excellent shampoo: he smells edible!!  Try this, you will be regularly buying them from now on.”

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British-grown Quinoa to welcome in the Stroudco New Year

Stroudco is back to its weekly Saturday food drops at Stroud Valleys school next week (10th Jan – with orders due in by midnight Weds 7th) and is pleased to announce that our regular producer member, Hodmedod has added an exciting new product over the Christmas break.  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a superfood which has been grown in Peru, Chile and Bolivia for thousands of years and formed the staple diet of the Incas and their descendants.  As demand for this ‘miracle grain of the Andes’ has soared over recent years, the price has tripled and it is now too expensive for most South Americans.  The local Andean population are now eating more cheaper imported junk food and land that once grew a multitude of diverse crops is now dedicated quinoa fields. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. So Stroudco was very pleased to find a source of UK-grown quinoa.

Hodmedod-Quinoa-500g

Peter Fairs’ family has been farming Warrens Farm since the 1850’s and has a long tradition of trying out new crops.  So he was excited when a professor friend brought him some quinoa seed back from a research trip to Peru.  Peter’s early experiments were unsuccessful but he bought and planted any additional seed he could get his hands on and made selections from the plants that grew.  He is now harvesting consistently good crops and has scaled up to sell through Hodmedods.  Peter is not a registered organic grower but uses no chemical fertilisers or pesticides.

So why are people so excited about quinoa?  Vegans see it as a nutritious substitute for meat with its high protein content – between 14%-18% which is twice as high as rice or barley.  It also contains all nine essential amino acids – including the elusive lysine and isoleucine acids, which most other grains lack.  Naturally high in dietary fibre, quinoa is a slowly digested carbohydrate, making it a good low-GI option.  It is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese and possesses good levels of several B vitamins and vitamin E.

Quinoa is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which make it potentially beneficial for the prevention and treatment of disease.  Quinoa contains small amounts of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and, in comparison to common cereal grasses has a higher content of monounsaturated fat.  Packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron it is also gluten-free and easy to digest.  The facts suggest it is as close to a perfect ingredient as you can get.

Quinoa is among the least allergenic of all the grains and is actually in the same family as beets, chard and spinach.  Cooked quinoa seeds quadruple in size and become fluffy and creamy while maintaining a slight crunch.  It has a delicate and subtly nutty flavour and can be used as a breakfast cereal, with salads or as a side dish with a main course.

Don’t take my word for it – try it out along with the other Hodmedods products such as the tinned British Baked Beans made with home-grown fava beans or the dried black badger peas.

To see the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk or just pop in and see the food hub in operation any Saturday from 11am to 1pm at Stroud Valleys School on Castle Street GL5 2HP

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