A COMMUNITY centre’s food co-op saw a surge in custom as residents shunned Christmas shopping mayhem in favour of local fresh produce.
The food co-op at Blackhall Community Centre saw an increase in numbers of people keen to grab fresh fruit and veg over the festive season.
Centre manager Alison Paterson said there are usually around a dozen regular users of the service.
But she added: “We had a bit of a boost in the week before Christmas.
“Rather than people fighting in the queues in supermarkets, they chose to come and get local produce, which is cheaper and fresher.”
The service, which runs from 11am-1pm on Fridays at the Hesleden Road-based venue, is one of five co-ops set up by East Durham Trust earlier this year.
The trust aims to increase this to another three by the end of next year.
County Durham and Darlington Primary Care Trust has funded the facility at venues in Blackhall, Haswell, Shotton, Horden and Hawthorn.
But Mrs Paterson said she wants to see more people using the food co-op and benefitting from the healthy produce and money-saving offers.
She praised the benefits of the volunteer-run service, saying: “You don’t have to fight in the aisles, or carry your groceries all the way from Hartlepool or Peterlee or wherever people shop.
“It’s all local produce, you can buy any quantity and it is produce you can see and feel and touch.
“Everybody comes and gets the traditional feel of going to the weekly greengrocer’s that they don’t get in the supermarket.”
Blackhall residents can get £2 off the fruit and vegetables if they spend £4 or more and the food co-ops accept vouchers, including Healthy Start coupons for mums with children under four years old.
For more information on east Durham food co-ops, call (0191) 5693511.