Fruitcafé de Helpende Hand: a neighborhood social enterprise

by: Frans Traa, Gebiedscoöperatie Westerkwartier

Fruitcafé de Helpende Hand (the Helping Hand) is primarily a neighborhood social enterprise. Themes that take shape within the store are healthy food, social activation and meeting each other, healthy ageing and sustainability. The store is a social enterprise (cooperative) with a matching business model.

Healthy and sustainable food
These themes are shaped by selling affordable fruit and vegetables in various forms. The sustainably produced vegetables and fruit come from producers in the region, in line with the food vision of the municipality of Groningen. Vegetables and fruit that do not meet the aesthetic standards, such as a too-curved cucumber and a deformed tomato’s, are also part of the assortment. In addition, fruit and vegetables that can no longer be sold are processed into, for example, juices and snacks, smoothies and soups and offered cheaply. These are healthy snacks for students and students from surrounding schools.
In addition, services are offered that relate to the products. Examples include: peeling potatoes and capping beans for older people who are unable to do this physically themselves, delivery service with a cargo bike (possibly with volunteers or from labor participation), collecting fruit and vegetable waste which can be collected by local residents to feed to pets (chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.) or for a local kids farm.

Meeting place
In the store people with distance to the labor market and volunteers from the neighborhood are deployed. The store is connected to the neighborhood, where people of all ages find a low-threshold meeting place, can chat and help each other. The neighborhood store is also a learning and work place for students and residents of the neighborhood. Students from the Noorderpoort, Terra and Hanze programs will do their internship and/or carry out study assignments there.

Next steps?
Fruitcafé wants to enlarge their supply in regional fruit and vegetables and tries to make the distribution smarter. Cooperation with other shops might be a solution. And they want to enlarge the impact in the neighborhood by organizing more food events with the people that live in the neighborhood.

Contact information:
Frans Traa, Gebiedscoöperatie Westerkwartier