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Environmentally friendly organic ‘bulk’ store opens in Forest Gate

PUBLISHED: 09:39 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:39 15 October 2018

Business partners, Cecile Mathonneau and Everson Ferreira, from France and Brazil. Picture: Ken Mears

Business partners, Cecile Mathonneau and Everson Ferreira, from France and Brazil. Picture: Ken Mears

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Forest Gate has its first organic ‘bulk’ store.

The store is currently selling 40 per cent bulk goods and 60 per cent pre-packaged, but Everson wants to get that to just 15 per cent pre-packaged. Picture: Ken MearsThe store is currently selling 40 per cent bulk goods and 60 per cent pre-packaged, but Everson wants to get that to just 15 per cent pre-packaged. Picture: Ken Mears

Cecile Mathonneau, 35, and Everson Ferreira, 39, hospitality workers from France and Brazil, opened Cups and Jars last week, just two weeks after signing the lease.

The aim is to make the Woodgrange Road store into a zero-waste haven, where people bring their own containers to fill with grains, flours, fruit and vegetables, paying by weight.

“We wanted to bring a less plastic and pre-packaged food offering to Forest Gate,” Cecile said.

“The selection is not as big as we’d like it to be yet – we’re operating at about 40 per cent bulk and 60pc pre-packaged – but we have the space to make it almost entirely bulk.”

Customers bring containers to fill with grains, nuts and flours, which they pay for by weight. Picture: Ken MearsCustomers bring containers to fill with grains, nuts and flours, which they pay for by weight. Picture: Ken Mears

The shop sells fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains, along with jams and honey from local producers, and more unusual ingredients, like fermented vegetables, vegan products, and handmade pesto and harissa. The fruit and vegetables come from farms in Kent, local markets, and a source in Italy.

Cecile said: “Everything has been made with respect and we know where it’s coming from – there’s a relationship with the person who sends it to us.

“We don’t see organic as a fashion or a trend, it’s a return to what my parents and my grandparents used to do. It’s the same thing with bulk. When I told my grandmother about the store, she said, my shop used to do that. We’ve forgotten how things used to be back then.”

Cecile and business partner, Everson, moved to Forest Gate four years ago. She was an operations manager at a wine bar, while his background was in coffee shops. They’ve been in the UK for about 14 years, but said they were tired of the hectic life of central London.

Cecile opened the store just two weeks after signing the lease for the Woodgrange Road site. Picture: Ken MearsCecile opened the store just two weeks after signing the lease for the Woodgrange Road site. Picture: Ken Mears

“We both bought a house here, and Forest Gate became a home for us,” Everson said.

“Forest Gate has a sense of community which we enjoy very much. On opening day, it was very chaotic, we had no computer. But even though we had IT problems, people were very supportive and patient. It goes back to that idea of community.”

The pair said the business has been welcomed into the area, and with a coffee shop at the front of the store, Cecile hopes it’ll become a place for people to socialise as well.

“Having the coffee shop, we can give people a chance to try the ingredients they’re buying,” Everson said.

Products come from farms in Kent, local markets, and friends from all over the world, including Sauerkraut from Switzerland and honey from Epping. Picture: Ken MearsProducts come from farms in Kent, local markets, and friends from all over the world, including Sauerkraut from Switzerland and honey from Epping. Picture: Ken Mears

“A lot of the ingredients here might be unfamiliar to them, so if we can offer sandwiches or cakes made of them, people can get a chance to sample. And from an ethical point of view, it’s also part of the zero-waste idea – instead of throwing out products which don’t get sold, we can use them in the cafe.”

“It’s more than just a shop, it’s somewhere you can talk about food, and hang out,” Cecile added.

“A lady last week came in and bought some beetroot, then uploaded a photo on social media of a salad she’d made with it. It was lovely to see.”

The store is on 108 Woodgrange Road and is open six days a week. Picture: Ken MearsThe store is on 108 Woodgrange Road and is open six days a week. Picture: Ken Mears

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