Why is this co-op better than other retail options?
A co-operative establishes a short, value-based food chain. It directly links local producers and consumers. Large-scale middlemen minimize their own risk by transferring it to others: Consumers bear the health risk, farmers bear the price risk, animals bear ethical costs, and the environment is mined to the extend that is legally allowed.
How does the online store work?
How do I sign up?
Once you sign up, staff has to activate your account so you can actually order products. New members also need to become members or purchase two insulated bags on their first order, which carry our logo and come with a free membership. Please give staff two days to activate your account.
How do I pay for my orders?
We generally process payments with credit card, AFTER food has been delivered to our warehouse and BEFORE food goes out of the door. With this credit card arrangement, we minimize errors and drivers don’t have to pick up cash or checks. We also avoid running after money. This way, we do not need to calculate a large margin for losses – that is good for customers and producers.
If there are unforeseen problems (packing errors, damage to food, quality problems, etc), we reimburse customers. Reimbursements are credited to a customer’s account and taken off the next order. On your invoice, a credit is marked accounting style in brackets. Hence, ($5) is a 5 dollar credit.
Can I be member if I don’t have a credit card?
For customers who prefer not to use credit cards, we offer a pre-payment option. In this case, we require to pre-pay $200 to your Eat Local account, either with cheque or eTransfer. You can then order until this credit is gone. We require this relatively large amount because handling eTransfers is cumbersome. Also, we do NOT YET send out reminders to up your in-store credit, so please send us your fill-up.
On which days can I order in the online store?
The ordering window for a delivery period (Wednesday – Friday) ends Monday at noon. Your best time to order is Friday. Before, not all farmers may have posted their products for the next week. Some products may sell out during the ordering time.
How can I make ordering simpler?
To minimize your time for clicking through the store, you can select your personal favorite items. These will be displayed in a separate tab for your convenience.
Can I pre-order in advance?
While basic ordering is week by week, the software offers full functionality to order for future weeks, and also to order regular deliveries (1 dz of eggs every week or every two weeks). These functions can make your ordering easier. If you go on holidays or have enough eggs, you can always modify your orders and remove both the “regular” and the “future” egg order until the cut-off date, which is always Monday noon before the delivery.
What types of products will you sell?
Our goal is to offer your full grocery basket over the full year. We will source as much as is available locally. If goods are not available locally, we will also offer other goods that are coming from further away – from elsewhere in Ontario, Canada, North America, or the world. That saves you the trip to the grocery store and improves the general service. However, we will have a seasonal focus and not promote off-season imported goods that have low taste quality –no imported strawberries for Christmas!
What restrictions do you have on sales?
We help customers make better food choices, by restricting our products faster than government agencies can. These restrictions are laid out in our product policy and our commitment to a sustainable food system.
Are products organic?
From local producers, we will sell products that are organically certified and others that are not. Only products certified through a qualified third party can use the organic label. For some smaller producers, organic certification is not economically reasonable but they use mostly organic practices. Other producers find it difficult to meet aspects of the organic standard. Through our co-operative, we hope to communicate the values that matters for our consumer members and provide support such that producers can live up to what consumers expect. We want to take an inclusive, pragmatic and transparent stand.
We believe that some products and ingredients are inconsistent with our values. These will not be sold through our co-operative. These include (see Product Policy) wheat that was desiccated with round-up immediately before harvest, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, and meat products raised in confined feedlots.
Products that are sourced from outside our region are always certified organic or naturally grown, because there is no other way to warrant minimal production standards.
Are consumer allowed to choose some or all of their veggies e.g we do not like Kale?
For the 2016 season, we will offer veggies in three manners:
- you order individual items (like “2 heads of green head lettuce”),
- a one-time box order that is composed by producers (“Mixed spring veggies by Lena Landei”),
- regular orders by producers (“Seasonal veggies by Persephone Market Garden”).
In 2016, the responsibility for content will mainly be with producers. All of our members have experience in such box programs. We will run surveys what type of veggies polarize our customers (like kale or fennel: some love it, others hate it!), such that keep these out of mixed boxes because we sell as individual items.
In 2017, Eat Local will consider offering an own box that can be customized by consumers. Here, Eat Local composes a seasonal box and customers can flag certain veggies that they don’t like. Our software is capable of this, but we need to do lots of planning to match demand and supply. For this reason, please sign up as a customer so we know what to plan for in 2017. We can only sell what our producers have seeded for us!
Can I sell my products through you?
If you have a product that our producer members cannot supply at sufficient quantity or quality, your production methods is compliant with our producer policy, and you support the values of this co-operative, then please get in contact with email@example.com and a subject line “Eat Local – New Producer”. We will then get in contact with you.
Please give us some time: We are still working on a “Managing competition policy” that balances the openness principle of our co-operative with the need to protect our farmer members from destructive competition. Once our regular deliveries are up and running, this will be highest priority.
How much does a membership cost for a consumer?
An annual membership costs $35 for one year, multi-year sign-ups receive discounts. Our membership page explains membership details .
How do I pay for my membership?
We cannot sell memberships via credit card due to limitations set by our credit card processor, because it is not consistent with our return policy for credit card purchases. However, we sell insulated bags with our logo for a comparable price ($35), which come with a free membership.
Can I buy memberships for time periods shorter than a year?
We only accept full-year memberships. At our low rate, the administration costs on our side would exceed any cost savings on the consumer side, which we would have to recuperate elsewhere. Keeping it simple saves everyone’s money.
Can I buy food if I am not a member?
Only members can purchase goods. With your sign-up, you register your delivery location – your home or your pick-up point. Your fee contributes to staff time for putting your house on a map, double-checking all information, and also it helps with startup investments.
How will payment for food work?
Our preferred method of payment is credit card because it is simple to administrate and guarantees that we don’t have to run after payments.
If you are interested in a pre-paid credit, please send us a cheque or eTransfer (at least $200). Your money will be applied to your account, and you can buy until your credit is used up.
We cannot accept payments after the delivery, or cheques in the cooler. It would just create large administrative costs and require a higher mark-up that ultimately you, our customer members, would have to pay.
Home delivery and delivery routes
Delivery in rural areas poses unique challenges of a widely distributed customer base.
Insulated bags & ice packs
All refrigerated or frozen goods come in our safe cooling chain right to your door/pick-up point: in insulated bags and with ice packs.
Our insulated bags should eventually return to the pick-up locations. We have a couple on reserve, and really cool people are allowed to go shopping with them! But please do not stack them at home or sell them in Toronto, but return them clean and whole. Otherwise we’d have to start charging for them and paying someone to manage a refund system, which increases your delivery fee. We pay $4 for each bag even in huge quantity (plus $0.50/bag delivery fee), so hopefully our intelligent members will act responsibly.
Please return our ice packs as well.
What are your delivery routes?
As of now, emerging routes are as follows (confirmed pick-up locations are underlined)
- OWEN SOUND ROUTE, mostly home delivery:
Owen Sound downtown, east, west, Balmy Beach
- LAKE HURON ROUTE , mostly home delivery:
Saugeen Shores down to Kincardine
- HIGHLAND ROUTE, mostly pick-up:
the triangle between Chatsworth, Wiliamsford, Durham, Flesherton, Holland Centre
- THE NORTHERNER ROUTE, outside of Wiarton mostly pick-up
Park Head, Hepworth, Sauble Beach, Oliphant, Wiarton, Ferndale, Lions Head
- SOUTHERN BRUCE ROUTE (currently suspended),
Hanover, Walkerton, Chesley, Neustadt & Mildmay
(outside of these centers pick-up only)
We have some interest from the Blue Mountains Municipality, but currently not enough density. For now, options include more members, or pick-up from Flesherton, Owen Sound, or the Meaford area, or simply a bit more patience!
What is your delivery fee?
Our standard delivery charge is $5 for home delivery in “dense” areas and delivery to pick-up locations in “sparse” areas.
How do you define “sparse” and “dense” membership zones?
We will deliver to where our members live. Your delivery fees must cover our delivery costs – that is our strategy of transparent pricing. So we must restrict our home delivery service to areas where our member density is higher (dense membership zones). In areas with sparser density of our members (sparse membership zones), it is not financially viable to offer home delivery at our standard fee of $5.00. Here, we can only offer to bring deliveries to central and accessible pick-up locations.
What is a pick-up location?
Pick-up locations are closed areas where a group of members can retrieve their grocery boxes, especially in zones with sparse membership density. For each pick-up location, a Pick-up location manager”must be identified – a volunteer member who acts as contact person between local members and us. Usually it is the house owner. The pick-up location needs to provide adequate cooling facility (e.g. coolers or a chest freezer for frozen goods).
What makes a good pick-up location?
A pick-up location needs to be accessible safely at all weather conditions. Good locations are businesses, community halls, churches, or similar buildings that are open to the public. They are optimally located along a major road (HWY, County Rd, or other good road). The location needs to be accessible, provide adequate temperature (reasonably cool room temperature, space for a cooler for refrigerated products and small chest freezer or larger cooler for frozen goods). Our driver will then leave the boxes and place refrigerated and frozen goods into these coolers/freezers. It will be the customers’ responsibility to pick up orders before they spoil, and Eat Local Grey Bruce cannot take responsibility for problems associated with storage temperature at the pick-up location.
I want to suggest a new or better pick-up location, what shall I do?
To suggest a pick-up location and a pick-up point manager, please contact us via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will connect you with people in your area that are also interested in our food.
How can I best help Eat Local to be successful?
At our current stage, we need people who support us through their membership. And help spread the word! We encourage four-year sign-ups because it will provide us with sufficient cash during the start-up phase. We can provide you with posters and postcards for your neighbors or community – please send us an email email@example.com and we will mail you what you need.
Can I volunteer with you?
Food distribution needs to be fast and meet food safety regulations. For now, we will only work with our part-time staff. We believe that this enterprise cannot rely on volunteering to fulfill its core tasks. For other tasks that last around half a day, your help will be appreciated (for example mail-outs, putting out posters and postcards). If you are interested, please contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and write “Eat Local– Volunteering” into the subject line.
For now, we are busy just getting organized and cannot take on more responsibilities. We promise that we will engage further with our community – soon enough.
Can my business help you during startup?
As a startup enterprise, we require all kinds of services at a time when we have least cash flow. These range from printing jobs, legal advice, help with educational events, accounting, marketing, construction jobs, painting, you name it. If we manage to launch successfully, we are committed to long-term local business partnerships based on fair reciprocity. During startup, we are grateful for any support from other businesses, and will pass on such favors once we mature. Our co-operative philosophy also extends to other business partnerships. We can offer advertisement space on our delivery vehicle, our reusable freezer bags that we deliver in, or our newsletter.
Please let us know how we can show our appreciation.