In a recent thread Jacqueline Freeman talked about buyers clubs . These seem a really good idea . She said
". My favorite arrangement [mostly cash & some trade] -- I'm in a buyers' club, a group of about 25 small scale farmers plus about 100 families, all on facebook. Each of us sets up "buys." This is an awesome system. The non-farmers choose something many of us want, like wholesale organic coconut oil, purchased in 5 gallon tubs. She finds out from the company how many gallons she needs to buy to get the wholesale price, posts it to the list and we each sign up for whatever we like. I buy 50# nuts, blueberry bushes, bulk organic chocolate at the wholesale price. Last year I bought 40 various heirloom melon starts for less than I would have paid for a half dozen seed packets and minus the work of starting them (though we do seed buys, too). The buys are all over the map and they work out really great. Non-farmers do the commodities and deal with larger companies or directly to other farmers. We farmers post and sell what we grow and it's FAR FAR easier for me to pick on the perfect day of ripeness and then post that I've got 50# of ripe heirloom tomatoes for sale today. I post it at 10am and they're sold and picked up by noontime. Oh man oh man, that's far easier than farmers market."
Not everyone does initiate buys, it just falls to whoever wants to. Someone had a burning need for organic semi-sweet chocolate and geez, we all ordered once we realized we had that need, too. Because we are volume buyers, lots of places listen to us. Though we do try to support other local businesses and farmers first. So if no one in our group is doing organic peaches, off someone goes to research where we can make this happen. That's part of the fun of it, too. I didn't know I needed 50# each of organic hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds. I went in on the buy and have nuts for a year for a piddling price compared to buying retail nearby or online.
I wanted to cure my own olives but I'm too far north (WA) to grow them. (We did try with a dozen trees but over a two year span they all died.) So I ordered them from CA and we all salt or whey cured our own and I know I didn't spend $10/lb to do that, which is the going rate at my local store.
I've sold/bartered our tomatoes, apples, starts and grafts from whatever trees and bushes we grow, herbs, berries, roses and flowers, squash, melons, pears, grapes and vines, eggs, poultry, beef. I've also had some of these friends make cheese and ice cream using our ingredients. It varies each year. One of my favourites is to give a really good cook a box of stuff, including meat, and tell her to cook/freeze up a few casseroles and give us back half. Great deal for both of us.
Has anyone else any experience of these including how to start one up .
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
1. Make the Facebook group and invite all your friends who might be interested
2. Spearhead the first two or three buys
You'd have a solid chance of seeing it take off. You'd just have to think of something you need so much of that you're going to get close to the wholesale threshold on your own. You wouldn't want to count on getting twenty participants on the first try, and you wouldn't want to let people see a project fail. They need to see your pictures of how well it went. Then they're confident, and they join in next time. That's how people join groups.