A few of us in Benfeita have got together to form a wholefood coop. Anyone within what you regard as a reasonable distance of Benfeita (where the orders will be delivered) is welcome to join.
The coop is an informal group, has no legal standing, is non-profit, and is run by members on a purely voluntary basis for our mutual benefit. There’s no joining fee or anything like that. The only rule is that no member seeks to profit from others’ voluntary effort so, for instance, setting up business selling products bought through the coop would not be acceptable.
We have just placed our first order with Essential Trading Coop in Bristol, UK, and figure on ordering roughly every 3 months to guarantee free delivery, which we get if we order over a certain amount. Deliveries can become more frequent if enough people join to qualify more frequent orders for free delivery.
While ordering primarily from Essential just now, we are concerned about food miles and about encouraging the growth of organic food in Portugal, so our long term aim is to be able to source local suppliers who can provide a comparable range of organic produce at similar prices. It’s also a potential outlet for any coop members supplying organic produce.
We have set up an online forum for order sharing – not just for the big Essential order, but for any smaller orders people are making as individuals from local suppliers as well – coop admin, member advertising and all manner of other communication. There’s a lot of potential savings to be made buying as a group beyond wholefoods. Take a look at the forum for examples. If you’re in this area and want to join, details are on the forum. It’s all in the early stages right now and will become what members make it, so if you have some good ideas, get involved!