25 November 2008

Unicorn secures affordable locally grown produce

Unicorn is an award winning co-operative wholefood store that specialises in local, organic produce and is owned and controlled by its 45 employees. It is now the proud owner of 21 acres of prime growing land in Glazebury, 14 miles to the west of Manchester.

Unicorn worker Rob Alderson, who has been involved in buying the land, explains: "We decided to secure land in our locality so that we can have a secure supply of organic veg for the long term. After 12 years of successful trading and working closely with farmers, we are in a great position to go ahead with this project. We know what produce the shop needs and our customers value greatly the benefits of a local, fresh, affordable supply."

As a sign of the commitment of its customers, Unicorn raised the £200,000 needed to buy the land from the local community. Customers loaned the co-operative money through a 'loanstock' scheme and in return could choose an interest rate of between 0% and 6%. This is the third round of loanstock Unicorn has offered - it raised £350,000 to buy its premises in 2000, which it has now paid back in full.

Rob continues: "We sell the freshest, most affordable produce around and, year on year, have increased our regional supply of organic produce. To feed a city in a sustainable way we need more growing land near the shops that sell the food - it's simple."

"By pioneering new ways of supplying local, organic food and developing an incredibly strong base in the local community, Unicorn is a terrific example of how business can be done in a sustainable way," says Dame Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK.

"This is something that is likely to become ever more important as food prices climb higher and resources dwindle."

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