By Mike Brown
New Galloway Community Shop is looking forward to welcoming customers to its first Green Week in February. Since being saved from closure in 2017, the Royal Burgh’s only shop has been committed to an expanding policy of stocking locally produced food and drink, minimising the use of non-reusable packaging, and promoting recycling.
Now it wants to celebrate what has been achieved so far and explore further opportunities during its Green Week, starting on 24th February. The shop stocks goods from some 25 local suppliers ranging from sauces and ciders to ready meals, chocolate and eggs. More unusual local products include dishcloths hand-knitted from recycled cotton and bees wax wraps to replace clingfilm. Many local gardeners donate their surplus produce for sale and the shop’s ‘glut table’ is often full in the growing season.
“Our customers are enthusiastic about reducing food miles and supporting businesses in Galloway. With few exceptions, fruit and vegetables are sold unwrapped and customers are encouraged to bring their own bags.” says Lynsey Hogg, the General Retail Manager. “Six of our suppliers will be at our annual Christmas tasting evening on 12th December. Everyone is welcome to come and sample their produce.” A growing refill service is available for Ecover and Faith in Nature products, ranging from washing-up liquid to hair shampoo.
“Recycling opportunities are being steadily increased,” says Lynsey. “Customers can return empty egg boxes, which we pass on to local poultry-keepers, and used plastic bags to cut down new bag use.” The shop’s own attractive Hessian bags are proving a popular alternative. Cardboard boxes are available for anyone who needs them. Inventiveness is encouraged and one customer collects wine boxes to create hedgehog houses. A battery recycling service has recently been established.
The shop is owned and run by New Galloway Community Enterprises Ltd (NGCE), a community benefit society owned by some 250 shareholders, residents and friends of New Galloway and Kells. All profits must be used for the benefit of the community. NGCE secured Big Lottery funding to purchase the shop and attached house, converting the house into two self catering apartments, with Four Star ratings from Visit Scotland. It also operates a self-service community laundry.
The Big Lottery funding also enables NGCE to employ a part-time Community Engagement Worker, tasked with promoting the economic and social well-being of the area. Since her appointment to this innovative post, Sam Rushton has introduced numerous activities, from healthy eating and sports sessions to advice clinics and a fuel-buying co-operative. Addressing social isolation is a priority.
NGCE supported the first Glenkens Food Month in September by donating Sam’s services to devise and set up a programme promoting and celebrating the heritage and diversity of local produce. The initiative was funded by Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership and the Scottish Government’s “Connect Local” Regional Food Fund. Sam organised a month of feasting and foraging, cooking demos, tastings and partying and a memorable ‘Feastival’ featuring local musicians and food producers, attracting a gathering of all ages.
“Support from local businesses, organisations, and individuals was overwhelming,” says Sam. “Local traders reported an increase in sales and visitors and a ‘buzz’ and enthusiasm for the activities. Now there’s a desire, and support, to make this an annual event.”
Mike Brown is Chair of New Galloway Community Enterprises Ltd. Find out more about NGCE, their Green Week and how to become a shareholder at their website: