[Market-farming] Co-Ops

Fellenz fellenz at fltg.net
Mon Nov 26 19:55:34 EST 2007

Hi Richard,

What you are describing is pretty common with non-perishable foods.  
When we lived in the Cincinnati area and my kids were small, my wife ran 
one for young mothers.  She ordered from a 7th Day Adventist Distributor 
in Michigan.  We would get several copies of a catalog each month and 
circulate the catalogs amongst the group and assemble an order.  On 
order day, the truck would show up, the members would show up, the bulk 
items would be divided and about 2 hours later it was all done. 

For fresh produce, it will be tougher to balance supply and demand.  
Unless your group is fairly large, the demand reasonably uniform and 
with sufficient quantities to justify delivering stuff to your farm, you 
may have difficulty finding growers interested in participating. I 
worked with a nearby 300 member vegetables only CSA this season which 
did special orders along the lines of the Co-op idea you have.   They 
would let their members know when a special item (like strawberries, 
raspberries, honey, blueberries) would be available, take orders and 
then relay the order to the supplier.  In most cases, the CSA organizers 
were also willing to pick-up at the farm.  The program seemed to work 
fairly well for items that were offered only a few times through the 
season.  I'm not sure how well it would work if every item offered 
required a special order each week.  As an alternative, you could 
consider a more conventional retail operation, buy in bulk from other 
growers and sell retail at your stand  or through an email "special 
order" type system. 


Richard Stewart wrote:
> Well, I feel dumb. :)
> I guess I have no clue what a Co-Op is.
> So let me try to define this then.
> An individual acts as the go between.  That person heads the "co- 
> op" (for lack of a better term right now).  THis person is the  
> contact between a small group of people and the farmer(s).
> Its not a CSA but it involves a group of people that purchase produce  
> as a group.  Each week they are sent a list of available foods/items/ 
> goods.  They then choose product and quantity and the goods arrive  
> for them to distribute among members.  No money is put down with the  
> possible exception of a membership or a deposit for totes.
> On the grower/supplier's end each week you get a list to fill.
> That is the rough concept.  The buyers can pic up the food or have it  
> delivered at a central location.  The payments are received upon  
> delivery.  Old totes are replaced with full ones.
> No money is exchanged prior to a season.  There are no shares and is  
> flexible for the buyers regardless of family size of needs.
> So, now, what do I call this?  Is there a name for it?
> Thanks everyone for helping out so far.
> Richard Stewart
> Carriage House Farm
> North Bend, Ohio
> An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1848
> (513) 967-1106
> http://www.carriagehousefarmllc.com
> rstewart at zoomtown.com
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