Last week I was super excited to be making my first order as part of a local organic fruit & veg co-op. And I’ve had a couple of questions about it so I thought I’d put down my thoughts for you. You would be right for thinking that I had been using Aussie Farmers last year but the quality was inconsistent and one week I received 2 bunches of black bananas in my delivery. I couldn’t believe someone could have packed that box! The bread wasn’t fresh, I had leaky milk twice and after a couple of other things I just had to say that it wasn’t for me.
OK so the way the co-op works is about 10 families order via a spreadsheet each fortnight. Everything is ordered in bulk and you can order organic grocery items as well as fruit and veg. If there are enough people who want the same item – say 20 kgs of potatoes or 20 cans of chickpeas and the bulk quantity is split between enough people then that item is ordered. If you don’t want the entire bulk amount or there aren’t enough people to share with you, then it isn’t ordered. But not all items are bulk – like herbs, butter, egg cartons etc.
You pay a small admin fee each order as one person in co-ordinating the paperwork and payment side of things. And once every 2 months you are required to pack the orders with another person in the co-op and it can take about 3 hours of your time sorting and packing. Unfortunately it’s on a monday afternoon before school pick up and with 4 little ones here with me it wouldn’t work. You also collect your own boxes from someone’s garage when the packing is done and it’s up to you to check quantities and the items are correct while you are there. Kind of hard with 5 kids in tow……………..
But the savings are huge. That is probably the biggest thing that attracted me to the group and the quality of the food was lovely. Half of my kitchen table was covered in fruit and veg for the fortnight and it’s organic! So if you are into organic products and you know that you pay more in the stores or through a delivery company then this is a great option. My order included some dairy, some grocery stuff, loads of fruit, vegies and some fresh herbs. I haven’t been invoiced yet but I’m expecting it under or around the $200 mark. And we’re talking about 4 boxes overflowing with food. I’ve looked into organic delivery boxes and it’s a lot more expensive.
But for me it was a bit of a disaster, I went to the wrong house, had to go and pick up everyone from school, go to the right house where I had no idea what I was doing, I took the wrong butter that I later had to drive all the way back and return. So at the end of day I left home at 2.15pm and we finally got home and in the door for good before 6pm because of the trips back and forth.
One of my readers said on facebook that in their organic co-op the first few deliveries are done to your house to help out the newbies. Nice. I think a great one pager of how a co-op works is a great idea. That way when people join they have everything spelt out on a page and can take it with them for the first pick up and know what they’re doing. It was all messages here and there and me calling and trying to work it out. It just wasn’t meant to be for me right now but maybe in a year or so when I have less babies at home and can really commit to the packing and also the picking up and loading up the car on my own. The savings and quality were very attractive but I think door to door is going to be my best option.
Do you have a co-op or are part of one? How does it work and why does it work for you?