I wanted to share with you some tips for a successful co-op. If you have a local produce source available to you it is easy to form a produce co-op. If you don't have one then you could contact your local produce manager at your grocery store and ask if you could get a bulk discount and go in that direction. We are lucky to have a Castellini Produce location available to us where we can purchase wholesale/bulk quantity.
After you figure out your source it is time to form your co-op group. Put out the word to friends and family and I think you will be surprised how many you will find interested. Decide how much you will need to charge each person to participate. In our co-op we charge $15 for a "single share" or $30 for a "double share".
When it comes to requests, you can take them with the understanding that they may or may not be fulfilled. Some people may be allergic to or dislike certain produce items. You can try within reason to fulfill requests. Our co-op does both fruit and vegetables and we get 1 new product each time to introduce variety to our group.
Our group has 2 shoppers each time. One is an "experienced shopper" and one is " inexperienced". This gives the proper training to the inexperienced shopper. The shoppers are responsible for bringing boxes/bags and they are responsible for separating the produce into shares. This works well as it allows each person in the group to learn how to shop/sort and take their fair turn. Because our market opens at 6:30 am and it takes several hours for the process it is nice to share in the responsibility. They more participants the better variety you can get for the group. Each member gets equal items in their share.
Additional resources that may be in your area include:
Hopefully this helps you in understanding how to start a produce co-op. It is a great way to incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables into your meal plan!