Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Local Bulk Buying Club

Hi Folks,
Are you interested in buying local food but haven't figured out how to do it in a consistent way (all year) that works for you and your household?
I am starting a business called Bailey's Local Foods. My goal is to make it more convenient for retailers and families to buy local food. One arm of this business is to run a Local Bulk Buying Club from my house. Think of it like an ONFC buying club for those of you who have done that. Like ONFC, the focus is on BULK. If you want three tomatoes or a pint of raspberries, I ask that you hop over to Vincenzo's to buy that. Yes, Vincenzo's! They will begin carrying local produce this year. I am organizing this buying cub with my dad, Wendell Bailey. He'll often be the driver. He's a nice guy, you'll like him : )
There are a few criteria for being a member of this buying club.
  1. If you are wanting a larger quantity of fruits or vegetables to freeze, dry, can or host (or you're like me and when strawberries are in season I eat them breakfast lunch and dinner) then you meet the first criteria of a member for this buying club.
  2. Another criteria for membership is that you live close enough to me (72A William St. W between Euclid and Avondale) that you REALLY WILL walk or bike over here with a bike trailer or wagon to pick up the goods. We're trying to cut down on the driving needed to access local food. Plus my driveway will be impassable if a few of you drive.
  3. The other criteria is that your priority is NOT cheap food. I am committed to giving the farmers fair prices for the food they sell me. Sometimes I'll even offer more then they are asking because farmers notoriously under-price themselves. I want these farmers to expand their fruit and vegetable growing because it is profitable for them. The more people food they grow, the stronger is our local food security. I often won't know the exact prices before I go to the farm on Friday. I will add a mark-up of about 20% (more if the gas prices keep going up) to the produce. FYI, most stores add 50-80% on fresh produce because of loss from spoilage. The only reason you'll find cheaper produce in grocery stores is because they often use produce like strawberries as "loss leaders" to draw people in. They lose money on the berries but they count on the customer spending enough on other things to make up for the loss. This practice hurts local farmers because people expect farmers to charge the same amount as these grocery stores.
If you meet these criteria (this is up to you to decide) then here is how it works. First of all, you email me if you want to be a member. I put you on an email list. I will be buying bi-weekly. I'll email you Monday nights to let you know what is available that week. You have until Thursday 9PM to email me with your order. Pick-up is Fridays 3:30-6. We do not have refrigeration so if you are concerned about something you ordered getting too warm, come at 3:30. We will be transporting it in air-conditioning and timing it so that it is picked up only an hour or two earlier on Friday.
I've been talking to a lot of farmers this Spring and putting in orders for a few things. Some things I'm excited about this year that I've found already are:
  • sweet potatoes (not many local farmers grow these)
  • organic sweet corn (nearly impossible to find!)
  • unsprayed strawberries
  • unsprayed raspberries
  • greenhouse slicing tomatoes, grape tomatoes and cucumbers from the end of April to the end of November
  • pearsauce and applesauce in a jar (keeps 2 years)
  • salsa in a jar
  • low-spray apples
  • a few farmers that store and sell the following until April: sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, apples, parsnips, beets
Not everything I source will be organic or unsprayed. Let me know if this is important to you. With the bi-weekly emails I'll often include a note about how long something is available ("only two weeks left for raspberries!") and ideas for putting food up for Winter ("Now is your chance to dice up a half bushel of sweet peppers and throw them in the freezer. They are great for casseroles, pizzas, stirfries, omelets..."). This buying club might begin to feel like a Seasonal Eating Support Group : ) (I know I could use one...)
Below are some price estimates:
organic or chemical free sweet corn (!) ($5/doz)
organic or chemical free garlic ($5/lb) (easily stores under a bed and lasts till April)
organic or chemical free potatoes ($.63/lb)
organic or chemical free broccoli ($1.85/head)
organic or chemical free winter squash ($1.25/lb)
organic or chemical free onions ($44/bushel)
organic or chemical free green podding peas ($56.25/bu)
organic or chemical free Green or yellow beans ($56.25/bu)
non-sprayed strawberries ($4.10/qt)
organic or chemical free raspberries ($5/qt)
conventional raspberries ($4.25/qt)
blueberries ?
sweet potatoes ($1/ea)
organic potatoes ($.85/lb)
beets ($20/half bushel)
carrots ($16/half bushel)
I'll also experiment with picking up local ice cream, nuts, grains, and cheese based on your orders.

Wow, this has become a long email. I hope it has not overwhelmed you. I'm trying to make buying local food EASIER here, not overwhelming. Feel free to pass this email on to others in the neighbourhood who are also interested in buying bulk local food (I don't have emails for very many people). Send me an email if you are interested or have further questions. Of course, there is no pressure to join if you are a friend of mine. I only want you to do this if it seems like a good fit for you and will increase the amount of local food you eat.
With respect,

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