About 10 years ago I joined a co-op where we had to drive down to Houston (about 30 miles) and pick our order up. We all took turns and thought it was great. Although, it did get hard to arrange babysitting and took up an entire morning. Then I found a group about 8 years ago that had the produce delivered to the home that was 15 minutes away. I did that for a few years. When the woman who ran that got older and stopped a few of us started up again at my house. Now we are doing it at my friend’s house.
- Decide on an affordable price to pay each week or bi-weekly that will give you enough money to work with. We do $20 every other week.
- Find the closest grocery district and check the prices and quality of the different grocers.
- Make sure that they will deliver to a residence, or locate a business that will let you have it deleivered there.
- Check to see that your neighborhood allows large trucks to deliver.
- We are staying around 25 people. That has seemed to be a good number in the past. You will have weeks that drop in number, like around the holiday’s and in the summer when people are on vacation.
- We require that you have the $20 to the person ordering by the Wednesday before so that she has an exact amount to work with when deciding what to order. You have to be strict on this as it is not fair to stick the person ordering with the bill when people don’t pay.
- When ordering you will get familiar as time goes by how many are items are in each case or box. You should be able to ask and order separately a few extra if you need it. For example, the avacado’s were 48 to a box so we ordered 1 box and 2 extra to make sure each basket got 2. Beans, mushrooms, peas etc. come in bulk, we have to weigh them out into bags when they come. We ask for extra plastic bags to put them into.
- When the truck delivers, we usually need about 5 people to help sort. We separate all the boxes and open them all and check to make sure everything is there. The baskets are all placed out so they are easy to walk around in rows. We start with the heaviest and less likely to be damaged produce and put it on the bottom. Then end with items like lettuce and grapes. Sorting it all out evenly. With the extras, we divide those up at the end, so you might get a random piece of fruit!
- We try and aim for about 6 different vegetables and 6 different fruits, depending on the season. We always order the “staples” lettuce, apples, banana’s and tomatoes.
I have found that it really encourages my kids to eat more veggies, plus save some money. The kids love to look at and unload my basket for me. With 7 kids in the summer I occasionally order 2 baskets for us as we eat so much! I would like to have an organic co-op but the price would be about double, but that is an option for someone if they want to start one!
Good luck! It is really easy to do and sooooo worth it!
**Thanks Julia for the picture, that is what our baskets looked like last Friday!