Growing Manchester(s) Veg People - a guide to setting up a growers' and buyers' co-operative

This practical guide details the creation and development of an innovative growers' and buyers' co-operative aiming to increase the availability of organic, low-carbon food for Manchester, provided in a way that is fair for growers and buyers. It includes template documents to enable others to replicate the co-operative for themselves.


This practical guide details the creation and development of an innovative growers' and buyers' co-operative aiming to increase the availability of organic, low-carbon food for Manchester, provided in a way that is fair for growers and buyers. It includes template documents to enable others to replicate the co-operative for themselves.

Manchester Veg People is a co-operative of organic growers, buyers (restaurants and caterers) and workers. The model is based on fairness, with prices based on costs of production and the risks of food production being shared, creating relationships of trust and understanding between members.

Manchester Veg People uses a model and way of working that:

  • For growers means they sell more produce and at a price that actually covers the cost of production. It also means they are growing to order which means less waste and less potential income losses as a result.
  • For buyers means access to the most local organic food, and therefore high quality and fresh produce, grown to order just for them, along with the positive marketing opportunities that this can provide.
  • For all members it means being part of a fairer food system and a wider movement to show that a more sustainable food system is possible and more desirable.

Manchester Veg People  Manchester Veg People  Manchester Veg People  Manchester Veg People

The report is written by The Kindling Trust, the Manchester-based community and sustainability organisation who played a lead role in bringing the Manchester Veg People co-operative together. It gives a practical guide to how Manchester Veg People was established, and aims to inspire others to give it a go too.

"We believe that there must be an increase in organic, low-carbon food production and consumption, if the world is going to become a more ecologically sustainable place. This combines with our belief that this will not happen fairly through the current mainstream food system. This is largely (and shockingly) because it is considered widely acceptable that the people producing our food are paid less then the rest of us, whilst bearing the burden of huge risks of sudden changes in demand, crop failures, drought, etc.. And also because it is a system in which a few multi-national conglomerates make decisions over fundamentals such as prices, what is grown and how it is processed, marketed and distributed, leaving producers and consumers alike with very little say over the food we eat."
The Kindling Trust, authors of Growing Manchester(s) Veg People

Report contents

Foreword

Introduction

The Manchester Veg People model

  • Manchester Veg People in practice
  • Diagram showing the practical elements of the co-operative
  • The structure and decision-making process

Why work in this way? 

  • Benefits of membership 

Manchester Veg People – a brief history

How we developed this model

  • Aims and vision of the group
  • Building relationships with buyers 
  • Building relationships gradually 
  • The crop planning process 

The pricing structure 

  • Working out the fair price to the growers 
  • Covering the costs of running the co-op 
  • Value Added Tax (VAT) 
  • Potential pricing issues and how we will deal with them 

Branding 

Membership and membership agreements 

  • Commitment - what we expect and what we do when it goes wrong 
  • Membership agreements 
  • Becoming a member – the joining process 
  • The legal structure 

Growing the market 

  • The benefits of having a big buyer 
  • Getting a mix of big buyers and small buyers 
  • Increasing the supply at the same rate as increasing the demand 

Other practicalities 

  • Online ordering system 
  • Tax relief versus grant funding 

Manchester Veg People as part of a wider movement for sustainable food 

  • FeedingManchester 
  • Sustainable Fayre 
  • Land Army 

Conclusion and next steps for Manchester Veg People

Support received and acknowledgements

Appendices (documents and templates downloadable as a .zip file)

  • Timeline
  • Ordering system brief
  • Buyers' questionnaire
  • Joining process
  • Grower member agreement
  • Buyer member agreement
  • Membership agreement explanation notes
  • Pricing calculations (draft template)
  • Running costs
  • Somerset Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) model rules for Manchester Veg People

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15/05/2012
Making Local Food Work

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