Having worked on fruit and vegetable stalls since a teenager and with a career in food procurement, Rollo Millership (above-right) knows his produce.
We caught up with him at the recently moved into store at 268 Upper Street to find out how Nourished Communities came to be, the importance of community and the team's plans for this year in there new home at the heart of Islington.
Nourished Communities started during the pandemic, tell us about the team’s journey from there to now three stores across North and East London.
Nourished Communities began by running from London Fields Sunday farmers market, Hackney. Initially purely to help farmers that were not able to trade on farmers markets due to covid. Many of the farms we work with I have been working with since I was fourteen years old. We began by working with just one farm. Now we represent over 250 independent growers and producers, have four physical stores in London and offer delivery across London and click and collection from our stores.
We then moved to run out of a pub called the Sekforde in Clerkenwell and finally to open our first store at Coexistences showroom at 15 Canonbury Lane, N12AS all due to the generosity of Mary Wiggins from Coexistence.
We have grown through the kindness of our community - this is why grassroots projects working with different community organisations, schools, churches etc. is so important to us. We would never have existed in the first place if not for meeting some of these amazing people.
Post opening at 15 Canonbury Lane we opened our second store at 183 Blackstock Road. This is where we grow mushrooms from coffee granules and have four bee hives producing honey in the garden.
Next we opened at 12 Blackhorse Lane, E17 this is where we are holding Nourished Communities Food festival bringing together 100 independent producers, 30 workshops and 7 speakers talking around regenerative agriculture. More info can be found here.
Most recently we have opened at 263 Upper Street that is our biggest and busiest store yet! We have built a space downstairs for supper clubs and soon the deli offering will be in full swing :)! Lots of exciting things to come.
Congratulations on the recent Islington location move! What are the plans for the new site on Upper Street?
A beautiful downstairs area for supper clubs & pop up events for our producers.
Workshops around foraging and knife making to begin with, and more to follow!
A beautiful garden for the bees and insects to enjoy.
How does it feel to be such an integral part of the daily lives of the residents of the communities you are in?
It is really rewarding to work so closely with the different communities we are part of. We are a platform to inspire people to excel in areas far beyond the immediate communities they are part of. We believe that through creating ripples in our community these ripples become waves!
Your stores are filled with a fantastic range of items. How do you go about choosing what to stock on the shelves, what do you look for in a product?
I am a huge product nerd and get insane amounts of pleasure from browsing endless aisles, instagram, websites etc. I used to work in procurement for one of the largest Asian e-commerce companies in the UK that gave me a good product knowledge of international supply chains too.
We couldn’t not ask this one…. What’s your favourite Julienne Bruno cheese and how do you like to eat it?
I love the Burella - it's amazing how delicious it is. We have tried many different vegan cheeses and there is no doubt that Julienne Bruno has created something very special. In my opinion through fermentation this is what gives vegan cheeses real flavor and excitement.