July 28, 2023
The South Hams is jam packed with businesses looking to operate in a sustainable way for communities and the environment. Two local businesses are making big changes, with Harbertonford’s village shop coming into community ownership and zero waste shop Green & Wild searching for new owners, and Devon company Planet & People may be of interest to those of you hoping to make your own business more sustainable.
Harbertonford has been home to the shop on Old Road for over a century. On hearing that the owner intended to retire, The Harbertonford Community Ltd (THCL) Community Benefit Society went into action, developing a community share offer that raised around £67,000 and applying for loans and grants to buy the business and refurbish the shop. We spoke with John McKay, Councillor for the West Dart Ward and Chair of THCL, to learn more about this huge project.
Buying the business and getting everything ready to go was a complicated process for THCL, involving a lot of learning about the technicalities and legalities from creating a business plan to navigating Post Office requirements. Over almost three years, the group worked to develop their plans, which include creating a bar/cafe area due to a lack of local pubs, and taking on volunteers to supplement continuing staff members. The group worked with the Plunkett Foundation who offer support and useful information on setting up community businesses.
John said: “We’re hoping to restore the shop to a thriving business and support local suppliers with a focus on the community. I know we’ll get an awful lot of support from our 220 shareholders and many others in the area. Our long term goal is a successful business that can also go on to fund other community businesses.”
In Kingsbridge, another local sustainable business is going through a big change. Green & Wild is a Zero Waste Shop on Kingsbridge Fore Street. The shop was founded over 3 years ago to provide a wide range of plastic free, organic, and locally sourced items to Kingsbridge and the wider South Hams.
Founders Rachel and Alex said: “We have loved creating and establishing the shop, but the time has come for us to move onto different ventures, so we are looking for new ownership to take over the shop and take it forward with fresh vision and energy.
“There are also several refill shops that are run as community interest companies which channel profit back into local environmental initiatives. We think this could be a brilliant option well worth exploring for some of our local sustainability groups. We would also like to thank all those who have supported Green & Wild over the last three years, it has been an incredible adventure.”
If you are interested in learning more about Green & Wild, please email Rachel@greenandwildstore.co.uk.
Finally, are you keen to place sustainability at the core of your business but aren't quite sure where to start? Or perhaps you've already started your journey to net zero and being a planet positive business and are wondering how to take the next step?
Planet & People is a Community Interest Company that empowers communities to create a better future for planet and people. They support businesses through action planning and workshops with our bespoke 'Sustainable Foundations' programme.
They’re able to help organisations of all different sizes and industries to see their business through an environmental lens, focussing on impact, efficiency and change for the better. Their work also directly invests in environmental education in local schools through their Planet Action Workshop series!