Growing together

Growing together: Hero 16:9

Picnics are a great excuse for a gathering, so we packed a hamper with delicious Co-op food to share at Hulme Community Garden Centre, which has received invaluable funding, thanks to Co-op and its members.

Thanks to the unpredictability of the great British summer, there’s a chill in the air at Hulme Community Garden Centre. But that’s not stopping staff, visitors and volunteers enjoying our delicious new summer food together.

The magazine team has come to Manchester to host a picnic at the garden centre — as well as to admire its new yurt, paid for with £3,000 from local Co-op Members’ 1%*.

‘We use it for our toddler and home education groups — on a wet day, the yurt’s warm and dry,’ says manager Rachel Summerscales.

Rachel has worked here for five years and, during that time, the charity Co-op Foundation and our Local Community Fund have also provided invaluable backing — protecting and saving community spaces is a big priority for Co-op.

Our members feel strongly about this too, and the 1%* that they earn when they buy own brand food instore allows us to invest in local communities. Rachel tells us how members’ money has helped people in the area: ‘They include adults with learning disabilities and children’s groups,’ she says. ‘If you’re feeling lonely, you can pop in, watch the frogs in the ponds, and feel better.’

We encourage our staff, volunteers and visitors to shop at their local Co-op because we know how much it can benefit their community

Food is a big part of the community spirit. ‘We hold pizza-themed days, where we pick some toppings straight from the garden, and on Wednesdays, staff and volunteers sit down together for a communal meal,’ Rachel tells us.

Today’s picnic has brought a crowd of happy toddlers and their parents outside. ‘It’s incredible to see extra funds helping the garden centre,’ says Jane Greenham, who’s been coming to the centre for 11 years.

It survives on donations, grants and loans, plus money made through its shop and fund-raising events. An interest-free loan of £50,000 from the Co-op Foundation will help the centre expand in order to be more self-sufficient.

‘We’re proud to be a co-operative and love working with other co-ops,’ says Rachel. ‘We encourage our staff, volunteers and visitors to shop at their local Co-op because, as well as ensuring the best quality, we know how much it can benefit their community. Co-op has been instrumental in helping us grow, and further funding from the Co-op Foundation will mean we can develop the centre even more.

‘Co-op’s values are aligned with ours — we love the compostable carrier bags and we buy all our tea, coffee and sugar there because it’s guaranteed to be Fairtrade.’ she adds. Everyone agrees it’s great to support the community — it’s what we do.

To find out more, visit hulmegardencentre.org.uk, coopfoundation.org.uk and causes.coop.co.uk