Naturally, we would like our families and ourselves to eat foods that are as healthy as possible and grown by using organic farming methods and the right vegetable seeds without the use of toxic fertilizers or chemicals. However, the large demand for organic foods and the relatively limited supply has made them expensive. Is there any possible way in which organic foods can be made more affordable?
One way of doing this is to form a garden co-operative to organize the buying of organic foods in bulk. The concept of cooperation is simple enough in that a group of people working together can achieve something that none of them can individually do. A co-operative brings the concept of cooperation to a business enterprise by organizing people into a collective group for economic benefit. For instance, the group of individuals may pool their savings into a credit union to provide affordable loans. The cooperative is also collectively owned by its members so the decision-making process is purely democratic.
A garden cooperative or garden co-op is a collective grocery store that exists to provide affordable organic or natural foods to its members. It is also free to stock other items that may be of collective use. They can be organized in different ways. A private food co-operative is open only to its members and members are required to pay a small fee and buy shares in order to qualify for membership. Members will also be required to contribute a few hours every week in the running of the cooperative. In an open food co-operative, outsiders are allowed to shop but only members are eligible for discounts. In fact, outsiders are encouraged to shop to build up volume and prices can often be lower than retail stores.
A garden co-operative creates affordability in two ways. The first is the bulk discounts that can be obtained from volumes and a steady order flow to suppliers. The second is the extremely low overhead because of minimum expenses on premises, salaries and so on. Many members contribute to the running by contributing time to manage the affairs of the cooperative and there is no profit element. All these savings are passed on to members in the form of highly discounted prices.