[Market-farming] Co-Ops

Fellenz fellenz at fltg.net
Tue Nov 27 11:44:27 EST 2007

Richard Stewart wrote:
> Andy...
> 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 
> networks.  
> 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
> http://www.carriagehousefarmllc.com
> rstewart at zoomtown.com <mailto:rstewart at zoomtown.com>
> From a consumer perspective, what you are outlining sounds great.  
> From a selling perspective, unless you can get a sufficient premium to 
> cover the additional administrative and handling costs associated with 
> each order, I don't see how you will be able to earn a reasonable 
> return.  Additionally, if you only have 13 boxes on the truck for each 
> delivery, delivery costs will be very high.  I used to rationalize 
> this type of delivery by saying that, "I'd probably be going that way 
> anyway", but even if you are going that way, you should make sure that 
> your selling price covers your delivery expense.
This idea is one that screams for an effective software solution to 
speed ordering as well as order fulfillment.  Here is a company in 
Canada which seems to be offering a service close to what you are 
describing:  http://www.greenearthorganics.com/default.asp .  If you can 
get sufficient scale to drive down your distribution expense/order, 
selling customized boxes could work real well. 


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