Martin Lester, Lodsworth Larder

The Lodsworth Larder is a tiny village shop, four miles from the nearest town, in sleepy Sussex. Yet despite its humble location and size, the business has become a phenomenon, reinvigorating the local community and drawing in visitors from as far afield as America and Australia.

How? Firstly, the project was hugely ambitious. Chairman Martin Lester and his committee had a tiny budget to get their shop started. They decided to make the Lodsworth Larder a social enterprise, managed to convince local celebrity woodsman Ben Law to build a wooden structure for them, and sourced recycled tills and coolers. Almost by accident, the venture became an environmental business, doing good as it grew.

"Ben has built the shop from locally sourced, sustainable materials so it is very eco-friendly," says Lester. "We also generate our own electricity and recycle water. It's a pretty unique building and as it is made from oak and cedar, the smell is wonderful."

The Lodsworth Larder has proved a godsend for local producers, allowing them to sell their fruit, vegetables and goods without incurring huge distribution costs. A few independent firms have even cropped up in the same spot: a brewery and a bakery both supply the store with their produce.

The Lodsworth Larder has become a thriving hub for the local community, it has increased employment in the area and sales in the second trading year are running at some 35% higher than the first. As a result - it has now become a blueprint for a number of village shop schemes.

Martin Lester explains how they put Lodsworth Larder on the map.

Find out more about the Lodsworth Larder

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