Located just outside the market town of Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, Riverside Market Garden is an award-winning community enterprise.
The enterprise was originally founded by the ‘Riverside Market People‘ who organise farmer’s markets in Cardiff. That was just three years ago. The market garden now supplies fresh organic vegetables to various local Farmers’ Markets, a ‘veg box’ scheme, and local restaurants. It occupies 5 acres in the village of St Hilary. My visit here was a trip down memory lane having lived in the area in the late 1980’s. Gosh has Cardiff and surrounds changed!
The enterprise is registered as a community owned Industrial Provident Society and was funded through grants, and partly funded through membership shareholding. The vision is one of ‘enabling more people in South Wales to live and enjoy lifestyles that are sustainable, and to promote well-being’. The target is to demonstrate a model for sustainable livelihood in which it is possible to work without damaging the health of the environment, the economy, or the community, and through which communities are strengthened and made more resilient. The project is positioned as a sustainable and just food system in One Planet Wales. Key to this is the development of Riverside Market Garden as an economically viable, community-owned social enterprise.
To date there are just over 150 community shareholders who have invested nearly £12,000 between them in shares at £50 each. Intriguingly, within the decision making process of the enterprise each shareholder has one equal vote, regardless of the value of their investment.
Throughout my visit it was clear that Riverside Market Garden is a young and vibrant operation driven forward by the enthusiasm of its ideals. I arrived there on a blazingly hot Tuesday afternoon when picking was in full swing in preparation for delivery of veg boxes the next day, and with the post of Head Grower vacant. Thanks to the sterling effort of the team of scheme administrator Debbie, assistant grower Tom and seasonal worker volunteer, Ceri – a professional musician in real life – in temperatures which seriously challenged anyone working in the poly tunnels, a colourful mass of wonderfully fresh veg was assembled and packed away ready for next day. And if you want to know about some innovative ways of storing veg to maintain freshness in such conditions give them a call – they are masters! A great afternoon.
For more on Riverside Market Garden, see the garden’s website
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