Following our launch in September, the first groups have submitted applications to join Real Economy co-operative as new food buying groups. With neighbourhood groups already starting up in Knowle West, Emerson’s Green, St. Werburgh’s and Barton Hill, we’re well on the way to bringing in a new method of food retail for Bristol. So what’s the fuss about?
Buying groups are good for Bristol’s food system
Our online ordering system enables buying groups to place direct orders -and build face-to-face relationships- with a variety of local producers. Receiving advance, large orders from Bristol residents who didn’t previously have access to their produce means that an enormous market opens up to small-scale growers and makers. Our system essentially just puts them in touch with each other and deals with the admin of ordering. In the long-term this means that smaller producers in the region will be able to expand -and hopefully new ones pop up- as the food system gradually localises and relationships form.
Buying groups are good for neighbourhoods
Deliveries are made to one collection point per group and members turn up at a pre-determined time to collect their veg, cheese, bread …you name it. Fairly unremarkable at first glance, but if a group of people is sourcing food collectively it starts conversations: about the food itself – who grew it, in what way; about what to do with the food – tips, recipes, communal meals; and about each other. We think its a great way for people to get to know their neighbours.
Buying groups can bridge communities
Our focus is on supporting groups to set up in areas of the city with high unemployment and little choice in food – in other words, food deserts. In the areas where affordable fresh food is hard to come by, a weekly delivery could make a real difference to quality of life. But we’re happy to let groups spring up anywhere they want to because the more orders, the stronger the system – particularly from the producers’ point of view. And, crucially, we intend to grow a diverse membership where groups can meet up -over a meal, a farm visit or an event- and learn about each other, get to know each other, and perhaps support each other in their endeavours.
You can start one
Start a group with friends – it takes 5 people to constitute a Real Economy buying group – or find out if there’s one starting near you. Visit realeconomy.co.uk/buying-groups or call Bea on 0117 929 8642.