An Islington food entrepreneur who started out in a disused shop during the pandemic has just opened his fourth venture.

Rollo Millership ran Nourished Communities out of a temporarily closed interiors showroom during the first lockdown.

At a time when farmers and independent producers struggled to sell their wares, he set up a grocery, veg box delivery, and website to help them find a market.

He now has a cafe in York Way, King's Cross; stores in Blackhorse Lane and Blackstock Road, and now a 900sq ft urban farm shop in Upper Street in the heart of Islington.

Ham & High: Rollo Millership founder of Nourished CommunitiesRollo Millership founder of Nourished Communities (Image: Courtesy of Nourished Communities)

"It's been a busy but really exciting five months," he says.

"We took the new site two months ago and it's our biggest yet, with a garden area where we will grow plants and people can come and have a coffee. Downstairs is a function room that's an amazing space we will use for community events, workshops around foraging, fermenting, and mushroom growing. And we are looking into stand-up comedy and supper clubs - we've built the furniture with wheels to be an adaptable event space. There are also three coal cellars, caves which we will convert into intimate function rooms.

"It's everything we dreamed of in one spot, we always felt we were squatting before, but now we've finally got a space with tenure."

Ham & High: Inside the Upper Street storeInside the Upper Street store (Image: Nourished Communities)

Nourished Communities' core focus is seasonal veg boxes from Kent delivered across London or click and collect, but the new store also has an alcohol licence to supply British wines, ciders and craft beers, plus space to stock goods from 200 independent UK producers.

Millership, who grew up in Canonbury, started working on Islington Farmers Market aged 14, and built a network of producers that Nourished Communities has helped to grow by advising on routes to market, branding, distribution and logistics.

"With our growth they have grown too," he says.

"We have loaned them money to buy equipment or given them credit and they pay us back by giving us produce. They enjoy working with us, and people enjoy the sense of community that comes from shopping with us."

Nourished Communities has a eco-friendly focus on eating sustainably; at their Finsbury Park site they grow mushrooms using coffee grounds, keep bees, offer plastic free refills, and run foodie workshops.Ham & High: The original Nourished Communities was in Canonbury Lane but has spread to four locationsThe original Nourished Communities was in Canonbury Lane but has spread to four locations (Image: Courtesy of Nourished Communities)

They also aim to be a platform for the community, whether letting local artists exhibit for free, or supplying food for healthy school meals.

Millership praises the "goodwill and kindness" of the shop owner in Canonbury Lane who "gave us a spot where we started".

He added: "I’m so proud of how far Nourished Communities has come in three years. Having launched our first store in 2020, less than 200m away, it’s an incredible feeling to be opening on Upper Street, in the heart of Islington. We’re delighted we can still serve the local community we love and are so grateful for their support over the years."

Nourished Communities is at 263 Upper Street, Islington.