By Vanessa Crowe, Sustainable Communities Co-ordinator
As a lead up to our focus in on local food in 2018 I recently visited the Dream Catcher Co-op, based at the Windsor Park Orchard in Te Horo. Co-op member Reece Baker met me to show me around their HQ, which is the shop space at the orchard. It was a Wednesday afternoon, which is pack day, so volunteers where busy packing out bulk fruit and vegetables into the member’s individual boxes. I was immediately struck by scale and the efficiency of this operation.
The Dream Catcher Co-op has approx. 100 members, 50 of whom make weekly orders of fruit, vegetables and dry goods from organic or spray free local producers as well as from national suppliers such as Chantel, Ceres and Trade Aid. The co-op is run purely by volunteers, which means that members can buy produce at wholesale prices (a small fee/order covers the co-ops running costs). Members share a common interest in sourcing local and organic food for environmental, health and community building purposes.
Pooling the skills, talents and resources of its membership has evident advantages – their beautifully designed website is made by one of their members and features stories about their products and suppliers as well as the how-tos of being a co-op member. There's also an excellent video made by Reece for the Real Food competition. It nicely sums ups of what the co-op is about:
Two of the co-op’s founders Richard Pearce and Jeremiah Straker explain that from the word go they wanted to develop a hub for the community to at least facilitate a discussion around local food production, local jobs and local environmental awareness – creating a place for a community to be born with making ‘really good kia affordable’ central to building community.
‘The co-op has always been about food and people’, says Richard,‘ it’s about providing a vehicle for local growers to sell their fruit and vegetables to locals.’
Members describe the co-op as a community of like-minded people doing like-minded things – it’s a place that attracts people who want to cooperate.
‘We are taking some control about where our food comes from.’ says Gillian Waterworth. ‘Taking back some power over where we buy our food and how we are supporting that food production. More and more people would like to see that their food is grown locally and sustainably and healthily’.
You can find out more on the Dream Catcher Co-op website. Or come see first-hand - from December 16th Windsor Park Orchard (Windsor Park, 961 SH1, Te Horo), is open for the season. Come along to pick up, or ‘pick your own’ Christmas fruit supplies. You can also buy from other local producers who sell to the co-op and talk to co-op volunteers.