By Vanessa Crowe, Sustainable Communities Co-ordinator.
Balancing budgets, getting by and feeding young families good food is an age old challenge. The Kāpiti Fresh Co-operative is a local initiative that found a way to make purchasing organic food affordable for local families. Recently at its AGM, members celebrated six years of working cooperatively while eating an abundance of beautiful organic food.
Six years ago, a group of parents with young children came together, cups of tea were drunk while toddlers and babies played. A typical coffee morning scene, except that between baby cries and sips of tea the conversation wasn’t just about sleep times and the best types of nappies, there was talk of google spreadsheets, bank accounts, delivery venues, and how to share out all the other tasks required to buy organic produce at wholesale prices. This was the day that the Kāpiti Fresh Food Co-Operative came into being and on a Tuesday afternoon in Winter 2009 the first delivery of organic fruit and vegetables arrived.
Thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of its members and how fantastic it is to eat fresh seasonal organic food, the co-op grew enabling it to prioritise supporting local growers while diversifying to also to purchase eggs, bread, tofu and seedlings. In 2011 Kāpiti Fresh became an incorporated society, and has since purchased approximately $100,000 worth of produce annually.
As the responsibilities for running the co-op lie with all the members, everyone takes on a role to enable things to run smoothly. Sharing out tasks and working on a co-operative system is not always easy, requiring flexibility, communication and commitment from its members. But the rewards are worth it. The exchange in return is not just the beautiful organic produce, the co-op has developed a strong sense community who often collectively pitch in when a family within its membership is in need.
The knowledge of where our food comes and how to go about ordering and distributing is great education for all those involved, including the toddlers of 2009 who are almost big enough now to help out on pack days. There is also the benefits of avoiding unnecessary packaging . As Kirsty Anderson who at the AGM handed over the chairperson role sums up, “We all get to learn from each other and feel like we are doing our bit to do things differently, consciously choosing to not make life just about money. It feels good!”