Humshaugh Village Shop branching out into orchard business

IT could be cider and honey on the doorstep for the North East’s most famous village shop.

Humshaugh Village Shop

IT could be cider and honey on the doorstep for the North East’s most famous village shop.

For the trailblazing Humshaugh Village Shop in Northumberland is set to branch out into the orchard business to supply locals with apple juice and cider.

And the volunteers who run the ever-popular business are also looking to make their own honey, with help from local trader Willie Robson, who is offering facilities.

Buoyed by a second successive victory in the regional Countryside Alliance Awards, the shop is again heading for the House of Lords to contest the national finals village shop category in March. And it’s all systems go for another great year, with the orchard and honey projects high up the agenda.

Dick Moules, chairman of Humshaugh Community Ventures Limited, which runs the shop, said: “What we would like to do, if we can find a suitable plot in the village, is run an orchard to produce our own cider and apple juice.

“We don’t know exactly where it’s going to be at this stage, but it’s a definite plan.

“Somewhere within the village would be ideal, and then it would be pretty much on the doorstep.

“We would run it on the same basis as Wylam Orchard, and along the lines of Prudhoe Allotments, which have both proved very successful.”

Since the volunteers kept the shop open in late November 2009, it has collected a string of awards and become a cause célèbre in Northumberland.

The former shop lost its Post Office franchise and when the owners retired there looked to be no future.

However, a co-operative effort not only kept the shop open, but developed it into a pioneering business enterprise. Simon Hamlyn, Countryside Alliance north of England regional director, said: “This shop is still pushing the boundaries of what a community enterprise can do.

“Humshaugh is exceptionally community-minded. I don’t know of another shop which uses its profits to give direct support to local groups and projects.”

Cider and honey aren’t the only projects on the Humshaugh horizon.

A commercial community kitchen could be in the pipeline, too.

Dick added: “At the moment, people wanting to cook food for the shop have to get special licensing and the like.

“It’s embryonic, but we are looking to set up a commercial kitchen in the village hall which people will be able to use.”

Meanwhile, the Humshaugh volunteers have their sights set on making it second time lucky at the House of Lords CA final on March 7.

“It’s great news,” said proud Dick. “It is thanks to the shop volunteers that we have built on the success of last year.

“Running the shop solely on a voluntary basis allows us to invest the profits in the village, and we are delighted that the judges recognise d this.”

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