help your community: organize a co-op!
Many GSG.com readers are leaders. You may not think of yourself that way, but are you always organizing things? Are people starting to come to you for advice, answers to questions? If so, then you should start a co-op.
First off, you’ll want to start keeping a list of people who are interested in nutrition, with their email addresses. Spend a little time tracking down lists of people who are interested in nutrition, and/or food storage (the LDS/Mormon people in your area are interested in bulk buys, and some of them within that group are also trying to get high-nutrition food storage and are always grateful for help).
Second, you’ll want to contact AzureStandard.com to see about monthly deliveries (of virtually every product carried in health food stores). Require that people send you a check in advance for anything you order, so you aren’t left holding the bag when 20% of the people take weeks or even months to pick up their order. (This will happen, I promise.) The people I know who handle Azure Standard locally charge 10% of the order totals, to be paid for their time and effort. They used to deliver but don’t any more, with gas prices so high. Make clear that any refrigerated/frozen items must be picked up within a few days. Have quarterly catalogs and sale catalogs for your people with their orders to be picked up.
Third, contact me, and I will hook you up with my contacts to get RAW ALMONDS directly from the ranches in California, since no retailer can sell you unpasteurized almonds any more now. Anyone interested in health/nutrition should have sproutable almonds. (Ch. 7 of 12 Steps gives you ideas and recipes for what to do with them.) This is an important group buy, because it’s something that your friends cannot obtain on their own. In my recent local buy of raw almonds (over 13,000 lbs.!), I made a sample of teriyaki and/or candied sprouted almonds for each person picking up, so they could see what can be done with raw almonds to make them live food that families love to eat.
Fourth, be on the lookout for community-supported agriculture. When you’ve built up your list, you could ask the CSA farmer in your area for a free share in exchange for publicizing his program that you like and finding a certain number of people to participate. (I confess I am paying for my share, and didn’t do this myself, but you could. And having a group of people take turns picking up from the farm is still worth the organizing hassle for me, with gas at $4+ and going up!)
People want a leader to help them with nutrition. They really need a little help. If you lead out and organize a co-op, you will bless many lives, including the lives of children who will have dramatically better nutrition as a result. You can also reach outside your own carbon footprint to help really decrease the effect OTHERS are having on the environment, a great way for a stay-home mom to make a difference.
I’m happy to help if you blog your questions. Any of you currently running a co-op, I hope you’ll share here what you’ve learned. Email me privately if you want to do an almond buy in your area and I’ll see if I can work it out.
Your network will grow with every group buy you do. It’s hard for me to quantify here the ways that bringing this group together will enrich your life. People tell me new things, hook me up with resources I didn’t about, bring me recipes and samples of their own good ideas—because they are on the same quest I am, and because I often invite them into my home to try whatever I’m working on that day. If you want, use those same names to put together a monthly meeting on a topic related to health you’re all interested in. It’s fun!
So tell us what you’re learning as a co-op organizer, as several of you have already done, by blogging here!
Posted in: 12 Steps To Whole Food, Relationships
13 thoughts on “help your community: organize a co-op!”Leave a Comment
I am the leader of our local raw milk co-op. Robyn is sure right with the statement about people not picking up their orders. It happens every week…Maybe I should charge a fee for not picking up by Tuesday evening.
As for what I’ve learned…even though folks are interested in their health, not many (in the milk co-op OR the Azure one) will remember to place their order on time. Expect to make reminder calls and e-mails, if you hope to make your minimums. Expect some to make excuses as to why they can’t pick up on time.
Overall, it’s been a great experience and I have made several friend who are like-minded and who I would not have met without the co-ops. I have access to many more foods then would ever be available here. It’s been a positive thing i my life.
I am part of, but not a leader of, the Azure Co-op in my area. We have several families that order, but need more to make our minimum every month. All of the participants are from our local Christian homeschool group. Robyn, how would I get in touch with the Mormon community? Do I just call the church? Is there a particular church program that deals with nutrition?
I recently joined a buying club myself. It’s quite small considering I live in a large city.
Which brings me to a question: I bought a small container of coconut oil from them. I live in a warm climate, so my oil is liquid all the time. Should I refrigerate it? It’s organic, unrefined, cold-pressed.
Do you think Azure would deliver this far away? I’m in northern MO and there is a large LDS population here and many of them are interested in good nutrition. It is very hard to get good quality food out here. So if they could do a route out here, we’d be so blessed. I just don’t know if it’s too far.
I really don’t know. I don’t run that co-op, but it’s a nice little business for my friend Charlene who does. Will you ask them and let us know what they said?
About finding the Mormon community, yes, I’d call the LDS church and ask for the preparedness person (this is a volunteer assignment, but people in the church tend to do their jobs with commitment and enthusiasm). Or you can just ask around until you find an LDS (Mormon) person and ask them whom to talk to. If you can’t immediately find the preparedness person, ask for the “Relief Society President” (a female leader). They can put the word out at church, or maybe they’ll give you an email list (probably not though). Then, when you’re talking to an LDS person, I’d ask, WHO is really into nutrition in your community–who’s the resident health nut?
I have a bunch of emails in my inbox on this topic today asking for help getting almonds. When we get organized, assuming we can get you guys nuts in Canada, Mossouri, Illinois, Texas, and Alaska (!), I’ll send you the email I put out. Even health-conscious people need to be educated about WHY raw almonds are so spectacular, nutritionally, and WHAT they can do with them that is exciting.
Oh, Brenna, the coconut oil question: it’s totally okay if it’s liquid, as long as that works for you, in the ways you’re using it. If you want it hard, then yes, put it in the fridge.
I called Azure and they said that the two closest truck drops to us are in Omaha and Des Moines. DM is 2 hours away and Omaha is 2 1/2 hours away.
He also said that if I wanted the truck to come down here it would cost 65 dollars per three miles away from the drop route. And I’d have to have a minimum order of $10.000. And I’d have to call the truck driver to see if he’d be willing to do it.
So I’m going to see what other options I have and go from there. I can drive to Des Moines and back for less than 65 dollars.
I know that Charlene, who runs the local Azure co-op, used to drive all the way to Washington State, every month! What this tells me is that by building a community for a while, and charging 10% of the order like she does, there must be money to be made doing this as a small business. (That, incidentally, was back before gas hit $2/gal., let alone $4/gal.).
You will need a fridge/freezer in your garage to put the frozen and refrigerated items in for people to pick up.
I think it would be worth it to drive up to Des Moines. Did Charlene order through someone else’s co-op?
No, she was driving to Azure Standard, itself, to pick up once a month. Maybe their routes have expanded since then. I think it could very well be worth the drive to Des Moines, too.
So far, I’ve only put it on toast 🙂 I’m going to try & get some more pac choy at the farmer’s market & saute it in coconut oil.
I can’t get azure to come to Vernal. I am a distributor for Alison’s Pantry, and my customers are pretty good about getting their stuff, but it is a hassle and order time is a hassle as they forget and I call and call.
Oh, and I just buy the grains, nuts, etc. frozen fruit, legumes from Alison’s. I’ve never bought all the packaged stuff, but the money helps my family get food, so I still do it despite the fact that I don’t eat a lot of their food!