Gabriola Island, in addition to it's obvious natural beauty, enjoys services that meet a vast majority of our immediate needs. On the food front we have several good markets, a wonderful farmers market in season and a handful of undeniable agricultural treasures. Recent media events are reinforcing the awareness that we need to be buying as locally as possible to reduce our carbon footprint. One of the challenges to this is the lack of infrastructure to support the goals of local food security. Sometimes we even need to create new systems that better address our needs.
Twenty years of involvement in local food systems (Fraser Valley) have given me some insight into alternate systems that address part of this challenge.
Prior to moving to Gabriola I created a hybrid buying club and I am adapting this model for local use. Remember this is a work in progress and I depend on feedback to help meet your needs. I am biased toward organic but not to the exclusion of other forms of sustainable agriculture.
After researching alternative food delivery systems we have decided to create a grassroots system to suit and support our local needs. We believe that this will allow us the choice of more wholesome foods, at better prices, while supporting local people who grow and craft much of the food we eat. This will also give you a greater role in determining the quality and availability of the food you eat. At the same time we will give preference to suppliers producers and growers within a 200 mile radius who are not being supported by the big box supermarkets as this is the best way to grow our local food security. An analogy would be that we are creating our own village, and supporting it for our mutual benefit. This is about supporting our own village first, and then looking further afield for products that demonstrate the same sort of commonsense and local responsibility. Our goal is to find a closer balance between our needs and nature.
Slo-foods is a variation of a buying club. Traditionally a buying club is a group of people who buy in bulk from wholesalers and work together to distribute it among the members - generally on a volunteer basis. There have been many such clubs started in the world and very often they have evolved into food cooperatives.
The variation that we are proposing is, that instead of all members being required to put aside time for buying club duties, we will put together offerings using our many contacts within the industry, and for this effort will receive a fee on top of the wholesale price for our efforts.
Each buying club member will get what they order at wholesale cost plus a fee for service (25%). This will translate to a substantial saving over retail if the the same product was available in your retail outlet.
Remember our mandate is to buy as locally as possible. If your local market sells Granny Smith apples from New Zealand it is not a conflict to buy a Granny Smith from Gabriola, (preferably) or Saltspring but we will not be selling you one from NZ.
We welcome suggestions and feedback. We only need 25 to 30 families (1% of residents) on a rotating basis to attain the critical mass that will make this sustainable.