Community shop builds on artistic heritage

An agricultural building in Chiddingly, East Sussex, with a famous artistic heritage is set to be transformed into a co‐operatively owned village shop and community hub thanks to financial assistance from The Co‐operative Loan Fund.

The renovation of the building in Farley’s Farm Yard, that was once home to Roland Penrose and Lee Miller, will begin any day now, and it is expected to be completed in the summer.

The finance from The Co‐operative Loan Fund supplements the money raised by the ethical investment of 96 members in a community share issue. Additional funds came from European, national and local grants.

Chiddingly Community Shop will sell a range of local fresh, frozen and processed produce straight from farms in the village, surplus crops from allotments, cakes, ceramics, stone carvings and greeting cards.
The shop will also act as a community hub, featuring a cafe, Post Office and car park and provide information on local events and will champion green initiatives.

Environmentally friendly principles will be followed where possible and from the start the shop will avoid the use of plastic bags in favour of using branded reusable shopping bags. The shop will also have a bike or rickshaw to offer home delivery to local residents.

Gail Giles, chair of Chiddingly Community Shop, said: “The shop grew out of a strong belief in supporting Chiddingly farmers and producers, and in the villagers being able to buy Sussex produce on their doorstep.”

Recruitment for a shop manager will take place in May and they will be supported by a team of 42 volunteers from Chiddingly.

Since the last village shop closed in 1999 villagers have had to travel over five miles to the nearest alternative shopping centre.

The team behind the Chiddingly Community Shop are hoping for a positive response to the new shop as a recent questionnaire showed that 63% of households would use the shop on a weekly basis.

Ian Taylor of The Co‐operative Loan Fund said: “Chiddingly has a fantastic cultural history with the likes of Man Ray, Henry Moore and Picasso taking up residency in Farley’s Farm. The new shop can only add to the sense of community and cultural identity of the village.”