2:51 PM July 19, 2022
What started as a community food store during the pandemic has morphed into two businesses selling boxes of seasonal vegetables, locally made produce and locally grown mushrooms.
Rollo Millership is behind Canonbury-based Nourished Communities, which has just opened a second store on Blackstock Road.
The latest venture includes beehives in the garden and a mushroom house using coffee pellets from nearby cafes – in hopes of getting into British craft ciders.
“We opened a second location in June in partnership with a beekeeper who owns the Cinnamon Village cafe,” he said. “It’s really exciting, we produce our own honey, work with 130 independent producers, offer plastic-free refills of olive oil, wine, lentils and oats, and received a grant to build a mushroom farm in the basement.”
Millership, who grew up and still lives in Highbury, says there’s space out back to hold beekeeping, wine tasting, foraging and knife-making workshops.
“It’s a versatile community space for people to express their passions – we have a resident knife maker and we’re in talks with a guy who makes salami. We want to engage with as many different people as possible.”
With experience working for farmers markets in London, Millership used his contacts during the pandemic to organize fruit and vegetable boxes at a temporarily closed Clerkenwell pub and then a furniture consultancy on Upper Street.
After the pandemic, they migrated to Canonbury Lane, selling fresh produce and produce from independents including Islington-based Cobble Lane Cured and Incognito ice cream.
“When the lockdown happened the aim was to help distribute food to farmers who were unable to trade, but we became a unique Aladdin’s cave of producers from Spitalfields to Walthamstow , from Kent to the Isle of Wight,” he said. “By aggregating the demand for niche products, we allow a wide range of different producers to have access to the market. They generally rely on farmers’ markets where there is a lack of consistency in sales, we remove So much of that pain and stand up for their work, help them scale up production and get to market. We’re excited to hear more about the products and the stories involved with the growers.”
They also stock UK cheeses, baked goods and produce from other countries. The majority of customers click and collect through the website, but they also deliver to E and N postcodes by e-bike.
From the start, Nourished Communities worked with food banks and charities and partnered with cook Meera Sodha to feed 400 families a month across Islington.
“We have always tried to give as much as possible,” added Millership. “People thought we were a charity – we’re a business – but we believe in giving back to the community.”
Nourished Communities can be found at 183 Blackstock Road N5 and 15 Canonbury Lane, N1. https://www.nourishedcommunities.com/