Last Wednesday 25th May, I attended a workshop on How to Start a Food Co-operative or buying group in your community. It was organised by Making Local Food Work, jointly run by the Soil Association and Sustain.
A fellow transitioner and I found our way to Dorset for what was an informative and inspiring day. For a start we were given a free lunch before even having any workshops (now that’s a good strategy for an event!), they had a lovely vegan shepherds pie and so I was set for the day.
We were introduced to the ideas behind food coops – foods co-ops are a way for groups of people to buy good food at more affordable prices by purchasing food in bulk direct from suppliers. This basically means cutting out the middle man so consumers and suppliers benefit, making it more likely that people can afford and access local, nutritious food.
I had wanted to attend with the idea that maybe in the near future I could help start a food coop in my village, as a way of getting to know people and as a way of buying the food we are unable to grow on our smallholding. Also with an ageing population and the increased costs of transport, not to mention the bus cuts, not everyone can easily get into towns like Street or Glastonbury.
The lovely hosts, Alison and Traci, introduced how food coops work and how you can set them up, exploring the 10 P’s. They pointed out available resources including their fantastic toolkit, which I’ve embedded below. We also heard from groups that had experience of running successful food cooperatives, including a lovely talk by Sue at the Balsam Centre in Somerset, whose work has helped local low income families access organic veg.
Overall it was a really useful afternoon, and hopefully a few food coops may spring from it. If you’re maybe interested in starting something in Compton Dundon, I’d love to hear from you!
[scribd id=57001391 key=key-1frkqwpnwckuwui6af5o mode=list]