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Co-op benefits from €145,000 funding

EAST Clare Community Co-op has received funding approval of €145,000 from Clare Local Development Company through the LEADER programme for the development of a food training and enterprise centre in Scariff.

Contracts have yet to be signed but The Clare Champion understands they are due to be signed by the end of this week, which will allow the community co-op to begin the development to the rear of its premises on Main Street in Scariff.

This project will be a huge boost to the local cooperative, which has been in existence for more than 25 years.

This particular project was the subject of a feasibility study and research was undertaken over the last two years.

The facility will be designed to be user friendly, catering for two main groups – adult learners and entrepreneurs.

Food entrepreneurs will be able to use the facility to try out their ideas in an equipped kitchen to HSE-approved standards at an affordable hourly rate. The proposed kitchen will have a diverse range of food-processing equipment, so a micro-enterprise culture can develop around artisan food production with sustainable local ingredients as a key factor.

A spokesperson for the cooperative said, “Scariff is an ideal location for such a facility with the surrounding good quality pastures of East Clare, the lake and the relatively high density of woodlands all providing potential resources for clean food production.

“Coupled with a multitude of small holders, who have a keen interest in local food growing and production, this facility has the potential to create real food jobs into the future around sustainable local food initiatives,” she said.

The other side of the facility is a training kitchen, which will be equipped to host FETAC providers, as well as food hygiene and HACCP courses to enable training for those interested in getting into a food-based businesses in the East Clare area.

Chairman of East Clare Community Co-op, Trevor Morrissey, who has a professional background in food safety auditing, said the cooperative is delighted with the grant aid.

“We are determined to grasp this opportunity to provide a unique food enterprise and learning centre for East Clare,” he said.

The co-op is now looking for volunteers to get on board with this new development for Scariff and is inviting them to help to steer this project from now until it opens for public use.

“We are looking for people with experience in project management and/or catering to volunteer for a day a week for 12 months to help deliver this infrastructure for Scariff and liaise with relevant professionals, with the support of paid staff and the co-op management committee,” Mr Morrisey said.

Plans for the proposed community-based kitchen facility are currently on display in the Meitheal room at the cooperative. Management and staff at the co-op are on hand to meet and discuss the project to date with interested members of the public.

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