Cafe Church Glebe's co-op of healthy eaters

Cafe Church Glebe's fuit and veg co-op provides members with baskets of fresh produce for just $12.  Here's how they do it.

The fruit and veg co-op was begun by members of ‘Chaos Church’ – a church for kids and parents and other seekers that currently meets at the Café Church space (the Uniting Church) in Glebe. Chaos and Café Churchers can join the Food Co-op to receive a big box of fruit and vegies for just $12, bought fresh from the Flemmington Markets, once a fortnight.

Members of the co-op are invited to participate in a shopping roster. Two people are rostered to go to the markets each fortnight where they buy in bulk. We have enough people on the shopping roster that each shopper need only shop approximately once every 2 to 3 months.

Shopping takes place on a Saturday at whatever time the two shoppers agree to go. The pair of shoppers are free to select any fruits and vegetables they would like to include in the boxes - the rest of us get what we’re given! It’s intriguing to see what you receive each fortnight. We’ve learnt to eat more seasonally, appreciating what’s available for a reasonable price at different times during the year.

How it works…

Approximately twice a year, we add the shopping dates and the rostered shoppers’ names on to the ‘yahoo groups’ calendar on our group webpage. Every fortnight, members of the e-group receive two email reminders telling them who is rostered to shop on the coming Saturday and reminding them to get their orders in. The first email is sent out 5 days and the second 24 hours before orders need to be received. These reminder e-mails include Chaos Church bank account details so that people remember they need to pay for their box, as well as put in their order. The fruit and veg boxes can only be paid for by online transfer. When transferring the money, we ask members to include their name and the shopping date in the ‘description’ for the online transfer.

All orders must be in by 5pm Friday…

Members can decide whether they want a box, and how many they want, on a fortnightly basis. Not every member orders a box every fortnight, while some order more than one box. Orders are transmitted through the ‘yahoo groups’ webpage. When a member receives their email reminder, they know it’s time to log on and update their order. This is done on a simple spreadsheet (see the example below).

Generally, the two shoppers use their own money to buy the goods and then ask the Church treasurer to reimburse them. When it’s your turn to shop, you or your shopping partner look on the food co-op ‘yahoo group’ webpage to find out how many boxes have been ordered. Then, you add up the number of orders, multiply that by $12 and that’s how much you have to spend.

Shopping in style…

Everyone has their own shopping techniques, but it seems to work well if one of the two shoppers holds the cash while the other pushes the big trolley. Some like to buy at least one adventurous fruit for their fellow co-op members to try, others stick to the favourites; some shoppers go for quality over quantity, some aim for a large range of colours, others are keen to have a good haggle over the prices to see how good a bargain they can strike.

Divvying it up…

After the shopping is complete, the food needs to be sorted into all the boxes. Some shoppers take the fruit and veg back to their home to do the sorting; others have been known to do it in the car park of the markets or in the church space. The final step is delivery. The shopper who has the boxes sends out an email saying, “The boxes are at my place - come and get ‘em!” Any boxes that haven’t been picked up by Sunday evening are taken to church so that the owners can pick them up from there. You may not always receive the items you would have chosen from the supermarket, but it’s great fun, good for the environment and supports local producers; plus it teaches us to rely on one another and try new things.

One more tip…

The e-group is also great way to share recipes and creative ideas for using large portions of beetroot!


Coop Date    Name         Number of Boxes    Paid
15/08/09      Steph                    1             Not yet
15/08/09      Richard and Chris    3               Yes
15/08/09      Dylan                     1               Yes