Friday, April 27, 2012

Cheap Fresh Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables. Join a Vegie Co-Op

How good is this fresh produce? 
It's our share of the weekly vegetable co-op shop.

Can you believe ALL THIS only cost $AUD25?

We joined a vegie co-op a few months ago and this week was my turn to go to the markets.  We currently have 11 families in the co-op (Yes, we're looking for someone else to join so if you are keen to join us and live on the Balmain Peninsula, Rozelle or Callan Park side of Lilyfield then please let me know).

There are normally 12 households who pay $25 each and take turns in doing the shop. So once every 3 months you have to go to the Sydney Growers Market out at Flemington and buy $275-300 worth of fruit and vegetables.

I went yesterday morning and I had so much fun. I mainly shopped for what our family needed (we'd run out of onions, potato and sweet potato so they were a must. My boy could eat cucumbers for Australia so they are essential also. It's soccer season so Oranges were also on the list. The rest was what I could get cheaply, in season and looked yummy.

I arrived at the markets (which are 15 minutes from my house, admittedly it's 15 minutes at 5:30am with no traffic) and was lined up with the the fruit shop vans and restaurateurs for the 6am opening of the markets. It costs $8 for the entry fee and $4 for the trolley. I then had $263 left for shopping.

I filled my car!

Excuse our scratched bumper bar, it's all the furniture I drag in and out!

Here's what that money gets you:
Entrance Fee:$8
Trolley : $4
12 bunches of Kale (Cavello Nero) $30
1 box of cucumber (about 6 per family) $20
1 box of lemons (7 lemons  per family) $20
1 box of Capsicum (green bell peppers, 3  per family  $12
1 box of corn (3 ears per family) $15
1 box of tomatoes (5  per family ) $18
1 box of Oranges (8 per family) $10
12 bunches of Beetroot $24
A box of sweet potatoes (4.5 per family) $12
A box of mushrooms (about 12 good sized mushrooms per family) $18
20kg of brown onions (7 per family) 15
20 kg of brushed potatoes (10 per family) $18
a box of mandarins (6 per family) $18
12 bunches of bok choy $6 (amazingly cheap!!)
12 bunches of coriander $4
a box of corella pears (5 per family) $18

We also had a box of spares that people can help themselves to anything extra that they wanted  - the stuff that was left of the even division.

Total of $270

I was home by 7:45 (having stopped to pick up a much needed coffee at my local cafe). After I dropped the kids at school I started the task of dividing up the produce. Using the boxes the vegetables came in I started counting and dividing. It takes about an hour and was actually quite fun.

Boxes ready to be picked up. People take their box, sign their name of the list and put $25 an envelope which the slip under my door and is used for next week's shop.

What a great way to buy your vegetables and support local growers... and meet people in your local community.

The benefits of a Vegie Co-Op I've found so far are:
  • your money goes a lot further
  • your vegetables and fruit is extremely fresh and seasonal.
  • when it's other people's turn to shop they will buy different choices to you so you get to experience new vegetables that you may have never bought yourself. For example, we buy Kale every week but a lot of people in the co-op this week didn't know what it was. 
  • you end up with a HUGE amount of fresh fruit and vegetables so you end up eating a lot which is so healthy
  • We've had to be very creative some weeks with what we are cooking to use all the vegetables
  • saves you time at the supermarket
  • If we have extras (for example one week we got 3 heads of broccoli) we give away stuff to our neighbours.
So if you are interested in starting or joining a vegetable co-op, go for it. If you are starting one from scratch, let me know and I can give you the details of how ours is run. It's been going for about 20 years so they are doing something right!

Happy healthy eating!

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  1. Excellent blog really useful blog!..
    Used Vans

  2. I love this community concept! We have them where we live, but they're organised a little differently - you just pick it up right at a designated location each week from an independent (small) company that packages the fruit and veg for you. I love that you do it with other families.

    1. it's great isnt it Lizzie! i thought it was going to be a bit of a drag having to get up so early and do the shopping when it was my turn but i loved it. all the stall holders were so nice and friendly and it was a lot of fun. I love the community interaction also. and i love all the vegetables and working out how we are going to eat everything!
      cheers Fiona

  3. thanks very much Pattie, that's lovely of you.

  4. HI Fiona, What a great article.. we are just trying to start one up here in St Ives.. just trying to get ideas on the best way to purchase and split.. it seems the best way is that whoever is buying is the one that decides on what is bought, without going crazy.. if you have any other tips, can you please email me at many thanks, Wayne

  5. Hello! I love your post. I would like to know in wich market did you make this purchase. Thanks!

  6. Hi Fiona,
    Thank you so much for your article. I eat a lot of veggies and fruits as a raw vegan and I found this very informative. I am going to be living in Camperdown, Sydney next year, and studying at university. I would like to ask - are you still running this food co-op with the other families? If you are I would greatly appreciate if you could contact me on my email, I would love to join! (


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