Organic co-op pops up in mill
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
"Spirit of co-operation is clue to resilience after devastating floods," says Valley Organics
On 26 December 2015 after unprecedented sustained rainfall, the centre of Hebden Bridge was flooded. Water from the River Calder mixed with drain water inundated the little town - famous for its small independent shops. When the water retreated it left a thick silt of brown mud in its wake and tide-marks halfway up shop windows.
The Hebden community has risen to the occasion magnificently coordinated from the community-owned Town Hall.
Valley Organics is a workers' co-operative founded in 2013 selling fresh organic fruit, vegetables and ethical goods. It is owned and run by its 10 members and also employs 3 part-time workers.
After the flood-sirens wailed at 9.30 pm on Christmas Day, workers made a valiant effort to shift the stock to higher ground. They managed to save about half the stock and were only forced to leave when the flow of water became too dangerous. When the waters subsided and there was time to assess the damage, they had lost all the stockroom shelving, three fridges, till, scales, scanner, card machine and a van. In common with most Hebden businesses they were unable to obtain flood insurance.
After 10 days hard work, they were able to open a 'pop-up' shop in a nearby community café at Salem Mill stocked with fresh organic produce. The shop is open every day and is becoming popular with old and new customers.
Laura (co-op member)
'We have had massive support and help from this community, from our friendly landlord, from our customers and even from complete strangers.'
Julie (co-op member who also has a smallholding on Hebden's hillside)
'At times like this, we are proud of being a workers' coop – more than any other factor, this is helping us through these hard times.'
Ellie (co-op member who helps look after the shop's accounts):
'We have had massive support from other workers' co-operatives: Suma, the national wholefood supplier in Elland; Great Rock - a co-op shop in Blackshawhead (local hilltop village); and Unicorn in Manchester'
Ben (co-op member)
'Our our old van was lost in the floods but we are continuing to deliver fresh fruit and veg boxes every week to our local customers.
Penny (co-op member)
'Just ten days after the floods, we started a pop-up shop in a nearby mill. We are fully-stocked again, we're open every single day of the week - and already the shop is buzzing.'
Alfie (co-op member)
The floods were a terrible blow for everyone but we are taking heart from the spirit of co-operation – we'll be back at our old shop in a few weeks!'
Lili (co-op member)
'With hard graft and tender loving care we are moving back into the clear and bright golden light of day'
Crowdfunding: You can help Valley Organics get back on their feet by donating through the Just Giving website
Pop-up address: Salem Mill, Central Street, Hebden Bridge
Pop-up phone number: 07508 075 530