How it all began

The Forest of Dean is a difficult place to do business in some ways, especially if you’re a food producer. There’s no one town that’s big enough to run a “real” farmers market, and it’s not the sort of place where people want a high-priced, high-status show-off sort of market. But there are lots of great food producers, and lots of people who want good fresh food…

A group of young people living in the forest wanted to challenge the stranglehold that supermarkets had on food distribution systems, and provide an accessible space for local producers to sell and customers to buy. 

James and Lynne began in January 2013 with the grand idea that they could take over a shop in Taurus Crafts and create a community run store selling affordable local produce. They had about £10 between them, no experience, and a vision. It didn’t take them long to realise that in a retail setting they had massive overheads like rent and maintaining enough stock to keep the shop looking full was really hard. And these overheads equated to big mark ups on the produce. This was not the dream! So the two of them volunteered for three months, and accrued about £500 in travel expenses, then set to creating something better with their modest little start-up capital.

The food Hub was born.

The online Food Hub began in July, 2013. Lynne had a background in software engineering so they were able to take a working Food Hub model from a group in Stroud (StroudCo), and set it up for us to use in the Forest. They got in touch with the Camp Hill farms and agreed to get their produce onto the Hub and they also generously allowed us the use of their packing room for our packing day on a Friday. 


Other local producers like Netherend butter, Greenhill coffee and Ragmans Lane Farm soon joined too. Advice from StroudCo’s experiences suggested that we’d attract more interest if we could supplement the local produce with produce that isn’t currently produced locally, eg flours, grains, dried fruit etc. We used Lynne’s £500 capital to source organic and ethical dry goods that would make the project a viable supermarket alternative. We add a larger mark up to this produce to be fair to other small businesses in the area, it’s not about putting other folks out of business after all.

As time’s gone by, Lynne and James (the first) have moved on and new people have joined us. We want to keep that process running: new people bring new ideas and that’s really useful. So get in touch if you would like to contribute to our development.

From that initial investment of £500 we now have thriving Hub with an annual turnover of well over £80,000 with more than 30 regular local producers, 6 workers and around 20 volunteers  and a community of over 150 regular customers

The Dean Forest Food Hub aims to help everyone in the Forest get local produce for a fair price to keep the forest thriving!

We’re all about keeping things local, sustainable, and ethical. It's simpler than you think, we just need more people to change their shopping choices.

Our main sorting hub is located at Oaklands Park.

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