A PIONEERING cooperative has celebrated its first birthday.
And the Green Valley Grocer in Slaithwaite has had a bumper first year and looks set to turn a profit sooner than expected.
Villagers banded together to open the fruit and veg cooperative on Carr Lane when Artichoke grocers closed last May after 40 years.
Supporters raised £15,000 in a month to pay for the lease.
And Green Valley Grocer’s ethos of using local food has proved a big hit in the last year.
Shop manager Carol Wood said: “Our first year has been fantastic. We now have more than 1,000 customers a week and we’ve gone from three staff to eight.
“Our business plan was based on the assumption that we would make a loss in the first year, but we’ve actually made a profit – though we don’t know the exact figures yet.”
And a profit will mean a dividend for the shop’s 149 shareholders, who have made a minimum donation of £10.
Green Valley Grocer prides itself on using local food, including honey from Honley, eggs from the Holme Valley and cheese from Todmorden.
And for some of the shop’s suppliers, it’s a case of food metres, rather than food miles.
Paul Sugden, who lives on Spring Street in Slaithwaite, regularly brings in produce from his back garden.
He grows cabbage, broad beans, beetroot and tomatoes and brings it to the shop where the produce is valued and credit is put on his shop account.
Paul, 50, said: “I will bring things down most weeks during the summer.
“In effect, I’m just exchanging my veg for things that I can’t grow, like bananas.”
Paul added: “I think the shop is brilliant, we’ve shopped here for a couple of generations. My grandma came here when it was Dakers.”
Marie-Claire Kidd, who works at the shop, added: “We try and be as local as possible. All the bread is made in the bakery at the back of the shop.
“Growers bring in their stuff from their gardens if they have a glut of something and we split it 50/50.
“So far we’ve managed to be self-sufficient in rhubarb, we haven’t bought any in.”
Marie-Claire added that Green Valley Grocer had a different atmosphere to larger shops.
She said: “It’s completely different to Tesco or Sainsbury, it’s a hub of the community. We know our customers’ names and they know ours.
“This is community shop and we want people to take ownership and become involved.”
Staff and customers celebrated the shop’s first birthday on Saturday with a cake.