The Beechworth Food Co-op is a 100% community owned and operated business with over 800 individual members. From our members we have just 28 volunteers who contribute their time week in week out to order food, pick up stock, unpack, write newsletters, sit on the board, present workshops, apply for grants, create strategic plans, meet with council, adhere to regulations, get to know growers, set guidelines about pricing and proceedures, manage membership databases, coordinate volunteer rosters, pay the bills, keep the books, deliver events, speak at schools, update the sales system and – the only part that the rest of our members see – man the shop . This group is simply magnificent as they are, reliable, endlessly generous and committed to the ongoing growth and success of the Co-Op.
The Co-Op’s primary goals are:
- To connect the community and educate them about food by offering a space where locals can gather, connect, learn and share. Workshops are offered regularly (fermentation, mushroom foraging, sourdough baking, permaculture talks, movie nights etc) morning teas are held seasonally, newsletters are sent fortnightly, recipes are shared willingly and it is open three days each week. This builds a greater knowledge about the importance of wholefoods in our diets, the value of supporting our local growers, encourages waste minimisation and ultimately shifts the community away from a reliance on multi nationals building resilience as a community.
- To offer access to locally grown, organic wholefoods at a reasonable price. We offer over 350 product lines of which 90 are produced within 100kms of Beechworth 220 are Australian and only 40 are imported. Of these 80% of our range is organic. We charge only 10% mark up on product grown ethically and locally to encourage consumers to support our local growers and where product has been sourced from overseas we charge up to 60% markup (still well below the average retail price).
- To grow the agricultural sector in our region. The rapid decline in local growers of fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts are the result of long supply chains which are at the mercy of multi nationals who do not value the grower which is evidenced through the prices offered to them per kilo. By shortening the supply chain and offering an outlet where farmers can supply virtually direct to their buyer, they can reap a more fair return for their efforts and are more inclined to stay in agricultural production. The Co-Op currently sells product from 24 local producers and this is growing all the time.
We have a whole series of projects that we look forward to rolling out over the coming months and would love to extend an invite to anyone who would like to become more involved.