Manor Gardens has been working to relieve food poverty in Islington for several years and chairs the Islington Food Partnership (IFP). This is a network of individuals and organisations working to develop an ambitious and sustainable food network for Islington.
As a result of our emergency food distribution during the first lockdown in 2020 we worked with IFP and our partners to develop and set up food co-ops across Islington.
A food co-operative is a group that comes together to give people access to food (and other household items) at affordable prices. A food co-op describes different types of approaches, and can be run by community groups, or residents themselves. In Islington we are encouraging local residents to join or start up their own food buying groups.
The way a food buying group works is simple – the group decides on what items the group wants to buy and how much each member should contribute. By pooling the money, co-ops can purchase large amounts of food at wholesale prices. As a co-op you can also register with local shops, supermarkets, restaurants and food suppliers to get deliveries of surplus food – food that is perfectly edible but is excess, on its sell-by date or out of season.
Each co-op is owned and run by its members, so you decide together how to manage yourselves, how much your membership fee is, what you want to buy, and you share the management responsibilities together.
During Covid, Manor Gardens and the IFP worked together to develop a network of seven community-based food cooperatives across Islington. The successes of our pilot network project has been brought together in our Learnings and Insights Guide, which we have written to provide our key learnings and insights to other food partnerships, local food networks, local community organisations, and local groups and individuals interested in setting up local food cooperatives.
As part of this Learnings and Insights Guide, we have published a number of resources that may be helpful for those interested in setting up their own co-operatives.
Cooperation Town (starter pack and resources)
You can also join our Islington Local Food Co-operatives Network Facebook Group to start chatting to others in Islington who might be interested in starting or joining a local co-operative.
If you’re an organisation interested in getting involved, please contact us for more details.