It’s amazing how sometimes the world can feel quite small. After our recent blog about Pillars of Hercules, we were contacted from the other side of the world. Maple Street Coop in Maleny, Queensland got in touch to say “we saw your blog, would you like to feature us?” In line with principle 6 (‘Cooperation among Cooperatives’), we thought yeah let’s do this. It’s also Organic September and what better way to spread some Organic love.

Here we go!


1. What’s the history of Maple Street Coop?

In the late 1970s, Maleny town (Queensland Australia) experienced a surge of new energy that saw the initiation of various community and co-operative ventures. One of the most successful of these was our Maple Street Cooperative Society Ltd. There had also been a major influx of new people to Maleny after Britain joined Europe, Australian farms losing their market and being sold off to people looking to live a more alternative lifestyle.

In 1979 a core group of people, concerned at not being able to obtain wholefoods, would carpool and travel the 70 kilometre round trip to purchase groceries. Lorna Huston (Wilson) was experienced in the Californian co-operative movement led a group to create the co-op, adopting the model and principles.

The people who carried the ball in the early years came together from different directions —environmentalists, psychologists, permaculturists, artists, Buddhists, new-agers, left-wingers, liberal humanists and peace activists. All believed in community, consensus and ethical business practices.


2. What attracts people to Maple Street?

Around half of our sales go to our 1,000 members, with the rest being other locals and our large tourist population. That’s a pretty impressive membership as we are only a population of around 5,000. People are attracted to Maleny for its stunning mountaintop location and eco vibe. We’ve also seen a large exodus from the big cities to come and live in rural areas such as ours.


3. The last 18 months will always be remembered for COVID. Scotland has seen a strong growth in local products and demand for local shops. How has it been for you?

The pandemic coincided with a building expansion where we took over the shop next door, nearly doubling our floor space. Our members asked us for more space, light and to maintain our quirky charm which we did, using The Pillars of Hercules Farm Shop and Hopetoun House Farm shop as inspiration. Our new contemporary look along with a renewed interest in local healthy food has seen us have our most successful year in our 42 year history.


4. Could you talk us through your best-selling product range? (Please let us know anything you think we might not have in Scotland - apart from warm weather!)

Our tagline is So much more than a health food store and our best-sellers reflect this with our organic lines of chocolate, organic wild blueberries, bananas and apples. Our local honey is a best-seller and local eggs. Embarrassingly popular too are our pies – local and organic though!

A popular line is an ice-lolly that is a simple organic banana dipped in organic chocolate on a wooden paddle stick. They’re made here in Queensland. Other favourites include frozen organic mango and dragon fruit. Very tropical! Recent innovations include installing an Electric Vehicle charging station and upgrading our solar to now source 33% of our energy needs.


5. Have you noticed a change to diets, or any new trends over the last few years?

We are lucky being located in the Asia-Pacific region, and our increasing multiculturalism has seen a rise in food ingredients for more exotic meals from Thai and Japanese to Indian.

Recently we’ve seen a resurgence in broths and collagen, fermented food and of course ‘plant-based’ food. We’ve got some good alternatives now though for meat and dairy including a stir-fry ‘beef’ made from shitake mushrooms which is healthy and local. Queensland has just brought in a ban on single-use plastics in cafes so we are seeing a big uptake of reusables and buying food in BYO bags and containers.


6. Like Greencity you are a cooperative. Tell us why cooperation is important to you.

In the 1990s Maleny was a real leader in co-ops, only second to Mondragon in Spain for the number of co-ops in any one place, with not only our current food co-op but also housing, banking, milk, film and artists co-ops. We see the co-operative principles as a solid business model that has stood the test of time, funnelling surplus back into the business and to provide good quality food at great prices.

Around 50 of our members also consign goods with us, mainly produce and some handcrafts. These local items add to our uniqueness and lend support to the local economy. Stocking nearly 5000 items from over 100 suppliers, we also source over 33% of our products from within 100k of our shop to add to the resilience of our region. We work cooperatively with local businesses, even our competitors, as we see that the strength of our town stems from us working as one. We are very much the Heart of Maleny.


Maple Street Coop are online at