Eat Local Grey Bruce envisions itself as one co-op among many collaborating groups. We see an operational network of co-ops that share products, knowledge, marketing and education materials, storage space, and processing equipment.
Can I learn about starting something similar?
We have benefited from the support of others, and would like to support new groups:
- We offer bylaws, policies, and other information on our Resource Page;
- Download standard presentations here;
- Download our initial business plan here. It is still a good first step and can be utilized in other regions;
- Contact and join the Local Food & Farm Co-operative network and the Ontario Cooperative Association, which provide a host of expertise and information materials as well as training for boards and executive staff.
Invite us for a presentations about our start-up process, successes, initial and ongoing struggles, and the wide range of benefits that we start experiencing. Our volunteers would require adequate compensation for their travel and time.
We want to start something similar!
We can support your first steps. We can assess your market’s potential, help facilitate a start-up group, provide coaching to your local leaders, point at relevant funding support opportunities, share expertise on equipment and cost-effective sources, link you with other experts in the field, and help you with startup financing.
In short, setting up a coop will require 5 elements:
- A local leader who carries the torch for about 1 year, and carries the new coop into your community.
- A core group of three to five farmers who are willing to share their local customers with the coop.
- A partner co-op like Eat Local Grey Bruce, who will help you with startup bylaws, policies, and graphic design.
- A startup consultant who can figure out logistics, operations, finances, and structure. Our instigator Thorsten Arnold gladly shares his expertise.
- Money. Replicating this co-op will cost around $200,000. This includes a high-quality refrigerated vehicle ($45,000), wage for your local leader ($30,000), operational losses during the first season ($30,000), a walk-in cooler ($20,000), start-up consulting for one year ($30,000), refrigerators and chest freezers ($10,000), industrial warehouse shelving ($5,000), graphic design ($5,000), software ($3,000), and freezer bags ($8,000). And lots of little things… We raised this money through member farmers, consumers (pre-sold memberships), bonds, an angel investor, and several grants.
More delivery regions, more delivery days!
Eat Local Grey Bruce could utilize their warehouse for one or two more delivery days (Friday, Saturday). However, we do not have the management capacity to organize that for others. We operate on a managing volunteer board, plus staff that manages the warehouse and the online store. This lean structure enables us to operate at fairly small scale without undue overhead cost.
We would love to start delivery to a new region (e.g. Meaford/Thornbury/Collingwood). However, it requires local efforts by local farmers to drum up customers. In order to move forward with spatial expansion, we require
- Two farmers from a new region willing to participate on our managing board, which includes some time commitment – especially in the beginning.
- 100 new consumer members who pre-pay one year membership, e.g. current customers of several farms. This money will be spend to buy more freezer bags and set up the software, but it also proves commitment.
- $3,000 in cash (including all dues of new farmer members). This money will help us pay for staff costs to figure out logistical details.