Unicorn worker Rob Alderson, who has been involved in buying the land, explains: "We decided to secure land in our locality so that we can have a secure supply of organic veg for the long term. After 12 years of successful trading and working closely with farmers, we are in a great position to go ahead with this project. We know what produce the shop needs and our customers value greatly the benefits of a local, fresh, affordable supply."
As a sign of the commitment of its customers, Unicorn raised the £200,000 needed to buy the land from the local community. Customers loaned the co-operative money through a 'loanstock' scheme and in return could choose an interest rate of between 0% and 6%. This is the third round of loanstock Unicorn has offered - it raised £350,000 to buy its premises in 2000, which it has now paid back in full.
Rob continues: "We sell the freshest, most affordable produce around and, year on year, have increased our regional supply of organic produce. To feed a city in a sustainable way we need more growing land near the shops that sell the food - it's simple."
"By pioneering new ways of supplying local, organic food and developing an incredibly strong base in the local community, Unicorn is a terrific example of how business can be done in a sustainable way," says Dame Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK.
"This is something that is likely to become ever more important as food prices climb higher and resources dwindle."