East Clare Community Co-operative is a 27 year old “not-for profit” organisation that has been at the cutting edge of education, enterprise, social, cultural and environmental initiatives throughout its history. Today it hosts accredited and community education courses, runs a family support service and community garden and second hand shop and is involved in a socail enterprise coffee shop serving fresh and organic vegetarian food.
In 2013, The co-op received LEADER funding to construct a state of the art, sustainable food training and enterprise centre, where micro food entrepreneurs are able to test out their culinary ideas in an approved environment and training in all aspects of nutrition, food tourism, food hygiene and other catering based courses. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland granted funding towards PV panels and a solar water heating system and the unit, now under construction is already generating its own electricity. Surrounded by Scariff Community Garden where examples of permaculture and forest gardening are evident, the new facility ties in many of the activity centres of the co-op and is an exciting addition to the “Future of Food” partnership.
Fionnuala Collins works at East Clare Community Co-operative and is the Irish co-ordinator for this project. A philosophy graduate, she has furthered her studies with Community Development practice and Youth and Community work. Fionnuala is interested in how food can build partnerships and communities, especially in the act of sharing nutritious meals as a form of celebration. She is interested in why food poverty exists, and if there are really foods and diet lifestyles that either boost or destroy health. Fionnuala thinks The future of food partnership will bring together many aspects of community development practice and sustainable food production and sharing. Furthermore through sharing ideas, research and learning on what is the right direction for the future of food we might learn if there is a sustainable and health enhancing diet for the here and now.