If you haven’t heard of Urban Greens, it’s a group of people (around 330!) who are working to start a cooperative food market in Providence. Even though the market is not yet open, you can order food through the buying club, which has been active for over ten years.
I have an confession to make – even though I was on the board of Urban Greens for a couple of years, this month was my first time ordering from the buying club! Previously, the buying club had separate membership fees, but now all member-owners of the future co-op (a 1-time payment) can order through the buying club at no additional charge.
What can you order? Items from two catalogs – a catalog of local goods, and the Associated Buyers catalog which has natural, organic, and international products. Individual products can be ordered a la carte, and bulk goods with ordering minimums can be split by co-op members using a convenient feature on the website: you can indicate how much of a bulk order you want (for example, 5 pounds of oatmeal), then other members will see the split and can add their order to it. The catalog includes not only food, but also natural body products, cleaning supplies, vitamins, and more.
How does it work? The order is placed once a month, and pickup is the following week. You can volunteer for only 1 hour a month to get the goods exactly at wholesale catalog prices, but if you choose not to, you pay a 10% surcharge (I’m pretty busy these days, so the 10% is still a good deal).
What I ordered: A very small order to start, and easy to bike home. Both of these were a lot less expensive than they would be at the store.
- 1 lb of New Harvest Coffee – Steamroller Blend
- 1 lb of chia seeds (I had them once recently and my curiosity was piqued!)
How can you join? More information about Urban Greens is available at http://urbangreens.com. I recommend becoming a member-owner of the co-op instead of just the buying club (haven’t you always wanted to co-own a store?) Joining is a one-time payment of $160, but you can also pay $40 a year for 4 years.