A BUSINESS which has been at the heart of Dunbar for 20 years will be taken over by the community within a matter of months.

The Crunchy Carrot on High Street will be renamed The Community Carrot after members of the public smashed a fundraising target.

The new Community Carrot Community Benefit Society Ltd now has more than 400 members and a still-growing tally of over £52,000 in shares investments – more than £2,000 above the initial target.

Isobel Knox, chairwoman of the Community Carrot board of directors, said: “The support from the community for this buy-out has exceeded all our expectations.

“We created the buy-out group as we believe this shop is the heart of Dunbar’s High Street, and the flood of membership applications has shown that so many others in the town agree and want to play a part in its future.

“From the packed-out community shares launch to the daily stream of application forms being handed into the Crunchy, the interest has been constant and overwhelming.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for all their support and are working hard to ensure a smooth handover for staff and customers, and the long-term continuation and development of the shop and services we all know and love.”

While new members will continue to be welcomed, the initial community share launch came to a close at the end of last month.

The official buy-out will now proceed, with a handover of the shop expected in late autumn.

In total, the society’s board of directors have raised in excess of £170,000 through the community share offer and a grant from the Scottish Land Fund. The money will pay for the purchase of the shop premises and the business, business advice services, a development worker, refurbishments and other costs such as legal fees.

Work began on the buy-out a year and a half ago, when the current owners indicated their desire to retire after two decades.

The shop offers services including free delivery on vegetable boxes to local pensioners and supports a wide range of local community food projects including Sunny Soups, The Ridge’s community cooking classes and Dinner @ DGS.

The progression of the buy-out will come as a relief to the many local producers that the Crunchy Carrot prioritises.

The Community Carrot will continue these services and is looking for ways to establish deeper ties to local people and projects.

The vision is to stay true to and develop the existing ethos of the Crunchy Carrot: a strong social, ethical and environmentally friendly focus, sourcing locally where possible, with many of the existing staff expected to remain.

Chris Eden and Jo Gibson, the current owners, said: “We’re so overwhelmed by the support, love and generosity from the Crunchy Carrot customers who have shown such commitment to it becoming community-owned and living long into the future.

“We’re very happy that the share issue has gone so well and very excited for the future of our wonderful shop.

“How wonderful and emotional and humbling this time has been.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for all their kindness.”