A CO-OP which sells local fruit and veg has landed a windfall with a surprising literary link.

The new owner of playwright Dylan Thomas's former house in South Leigh near Witney has gifted the Cultivate group the entire harvest from its extensive orchard this summer.

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Thomas lived in the house for a brief period in the late 1940s, and his granddaughter Hannah Ellis once said she believed he found much of the inspiration for one of his most celebrated works, the radio drama Under Milk Wood, while living there.

Now its fertile grounds will be feeding Cultivate.

Oxford Mail:

Literary great: Welsh poet and playwright Dylan Thomas.

The amount of apples, pears and plums falling off the trees at the house is so huge that the co-op has launched a new scheme just to shift it all and do some good at the same time.

In the Fruitful Futures initiative, Cultivate will be selling the 'Dylan Thomas fruit' each week and giving 100 per cent of the proceeds to projects helping alleviate food poverty in Oxfordshire.

As part of its new, charitable drive the group has also pledged 25 per cent of all future profits to the same cause.

Oxford Mail:

Picturesque: part of the village of South Leigh on Google Maps.

Cultivate's new manager Simon Kenton-Lake, who took over the reins at the beginning of the summer, said the initiative aimed to tackle a surprisingly large problem in affluent Oxfordshire.

He said: "This is a way that those of us lucky enough to be able to buy good quality food can help other people across the county to do the same.

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"We felt we needed to play our part and so decided to use this project as a step towards balancing out inequalities in food access across Oxfordshire."

Oxford Mail:

Good for your health: Simon Kenton-Lake with Cultivate veg. Pic: Ed Nix

In a 2016 study, not-for-profit group Good Food Oxford found that half of the people it spoke to worried about having enough good food eat, with 15 areas of the city among the 20 per cent most deprived wards in England.

Tackling food poverty fits well with Cultivate's existing aim of supporting local food producers.

Board chairman Tom Carman said: "Another important thing about Cultivate is that we pay a fair price to our suppliers with over half of the money from our general sales going directly to them.

Oxford Mail:

Cultivate chairman Tom Carman at the group's Sunday stall at Summertown Farmers' Market which is still going strong.

"The recent droughts caused huge problems for farmers across the UK and we should be trying to support our local food producers as much as we can."

The Fruitful Futures scheme is part of an ongoing overhaul of the way Cultivate works.

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Having stopped operating its VegVan around the city in the spring, the group is now selling all of its fruit, veg and other produce through an online shop and has hired Oxford's own Pedal & Post bike courier service to deliver it on Fridays.

It has also moved its HQ to land behind Hinksey Heights Golf Club and is also on the cusp of signing a deal on 50 acres of land there for food growing.

See cultivateoxford.org