52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week 22: Investigating a food co-op

I've been in love with farmers markets and road side produce stands for quite some time now. I've also been yearning for some type of close knit community to be a part of. In addition, I've felt the strongest desire to grow our own vegetables. This week while I was at the doctor's office I found a magazine on food co-ops and I knew immediately that I had to make it my project this week to find out more. It turns out that there is at least one food co-op in Philadelphia named Weaver's Way Co-op with three locations and I decided to go investigate their Mt. Airy store yesterday.

Food co-ops are, in theory, owned and operated by its members. The success of the co-op relies on the members commitment to put in their working hours. Members make a yearly investment to the co-op. In the case of Weaver's Way, you can invest as little as $30 a year to become a member. Once you're a member, you become a "household" and every member in the household over the age of 18 has to put in a certain number of hours at the co-op per year. The store is able to offer good prices because of the non-paid member work. Weaver's Way is a little more liberal than most of the co-ops I've read about. Here, you can be a member without having to put in working hours or you can be a working member who puts in 6 hours per year per adult in the household and you get a 5% discount on your purchases. You can also be a "friend or neighbor" who does not become a member but gets the same shelf prices as the member without some of the co-op benefits. In other words, the store is open to the public. Some of the produce in the store is local and some is not.

I arrived at Weaver's Way in Mt. Airy yesterday afternoon. Immediately I fell in love with the neighborhood. It feels like one of those throw back neighborhoods from the 60's where the shops are all funky and residents seem to know each other well.

The store itself is a small two story corner store. When I first entered I thought it was a little tight for space and a lot of the specialty items where anything but reasonably priced. But then I turned a little corner and found the section with fresh produce, artisan breads and meats and I was blown away by the incredible prices. I purchased the most amazing pie cherries for $2 per pound:

Blueberries and blackberries too at amazing prices:

Interesting chicken sausage with artichokes and calamata olives for the grill:

Upstairs I found the housewares department which was home to gift cards, fair trade teas and coffees and a zillion other fun things. I came down from the second floor with organic raspberry leaf tea, incense and a tea strainer.

I am definitely going back to Weaver's Way again. In fact, I want to check out all three locations plus their local farm if I can get the chance. I'm seriously considering membership but I think I want to continue going as a "friend and neighbor" a few more times to see how I feel. If I lived in the city I'd probably jump on the bandwagon right away. Come to think of it, if we lived in the city I'd join a community garden as well. Ultimately, I would love to be growing my own vegetables with people in my community on that little 3 acre farmette I keep fantasizing about. I love the idea of several families pulling together to help seed, plant and weed together and then share the fruits of the labor. It won't happen in my current neighborhood though because of a variety of reasons:

1. People in this neck of the woods tend to stay to themselves

2. People in this neck of the woods don't like to get their hands dirty. That's why God created landscaping crews and big flatbed trucks

3. People in this neck of the woods would rather hop in their Range Rovers and drive the 5 minutes up the road to the Hollywood-esque farmers market to stuff their baskets with overpriced produce.

One day I hope to have enough yard to grow all sorts of produce. For now though, I'm going to keep visiting all the farmers markets and co-ops and do my part in supporting local farmers.

What did you do this week?


  1. That is a great idea. When I was home I used to go to the Fresh Market every Thursdays. Now that I work by the time I leave there are not there yet, by the time I come home they are leaving :( But, I would love to be part of a co-op. I have pretty nice neighbors (not all of them) but the ones near me, yes. I would not mine if someone wanted to plant with me. I don't have a lot of land, but enough to plant for some tomatoes, peppers and herbs, yes. Then we can all share what we get. Hopefully one day. :)

  2. I also love Farmers' Markets (and seeing community gardens). And I've happily shopped at food coops in Austin and Ithaca. It's great that you're allowed to shop without the work commitment at first -- that way you make sure it all will work for you. I think the coop in my old Brooklyn neighborhood was the only one in the country that you HAD to work at. Now that I finally have a vegetable/herb garden, I finally "get" it about gardening. It is very peaceful and of course satisfying. Good turn!

    Also, apologies to all because I didn't DO anything this week that I can write up. Sorry! I hate to break my streak too for far of going off the rails.

  3. The goodies from the market are delicious! The sausages were so good!

  4. We have a nice coop here, but I have to say that even as a member, prices are kind of steep. Funny thing, last week I popped into a new little market that I had been meaning to check out...totally reminded me of the little hippy places my mom shopped at with us in the 70s :-)