[Market-farming] Co-Ops

Richard Stewart rstewart at zoomtown.com
Tue Nov 27 08:25:57 EST 2007


Ok, I understand the issues with that and what you are describing.

I guess what I was shooting for was a modified CSA, where no one had  
to buy shares and could order as needed once a week and decrease the  
carbon footprint.

I don't want to sell other people's products, just mine.

Let me try to describe it a bit more.

Right now my goal is to do a small scale test this year in my Aunt's  
building in downtown Cincinnati.  She's a medical illustrator and her  
building is fairly high end as far as tenants go.  In 2008 I'll have  
two market days and this would be added to this schedule.

She is the "head" of the group that will be purchasing produce.

She knows has 12 condos lined up.  12 members. A couple singles, a  
couple 3 to 5 person families, and the rest are all couples.  All  
have completely different lifestyles.  All want to buy local some are  
green conscious and others are not.

So, my aunt, she is the "head" of the group.  There would be 13  
possible participants be weekly order.  This group receives 2 totes  
per participant.  The totes cost 10.00 ea and are 7/8 bu.  Each is  
numbered, in pairs 1 thru 13.  A 20.00 deposit is received for the  
totes from the participants.

In spring the first seasonal harvest is ready and on the following  
Sunday, a list goes out via email to the "head" of the group of  
participants.  The email says these X number of items are available  
for X number of dollars for X number of quantity.  The head  
distributes the email either by electronic or paper.  The  
participants reply with their orders to the head who then places a  
single order.  That order is filled the following day fresh and taken  
to a drop off site at the back of the building a check or cash is  
exchanged. The next delivery will also have 13 containers in addition  
to the money.  Repeat.

Now, this concept may have been repeated by someone or not.  I do not  
know.  I am familiar with the co-ops you described, ordering from a  
central location that acted as an umbrella for several distribution  

This would be a sole supplier/grower, just as in a single source CSA.

The goal is to tackle several things.

1) More customer control over what they purchase (both in quantities  
and type of food), which makes for a happier consumer.
2) No money changing hands prior to receipt of goods (with the  
possible exception of a deposit).
3) No vacation losses for the customer.
4) Smaller carbon footprint depending on how the "head" person has  
organized the CSA, especially if its a high density condo or  
apartment complex.
5) More efficient than a FM because your time is spent picking and  
hauling and not selling.  In theory at least.

Just some ideas I was kicking around.  I enjoy FMs in part because it  
gives them an opportunity to TRULY know the farmer as well as your  
customers.  I am simply looking for something in addition too my  
schedule for next year.

I hope that better illustrates what I want to do.  I have about 12  
ideas floating around in my hand including the development of 30+  
acre hole in the ground and I am trying to bounce some of the smaller  
ideas off people while I wait for the property to be returned to  
something useable by the gravel company that out the mineral deposits.

Thank you for your time so far.  I really appreciate it.

Richard Stewart
Carriage House Farm
North Bend, Ohio

An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1848

(513) 967-1106
rstewart at zoomtown.com

On Nov 26, 2007, at 7:55 PM, Fellenz wrote:

> 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.
> Andy
> www.FellenzFamilyFarm.com
> 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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