The Food Assembly was started with a simple idea in mind. Why not use the Internet and growing social networks to develop a new way of sourcing and selling food, directly to consumers? A web platform was created, weekly online sales and collections were organised and The Food Assembly was born.
Guilhem Chéron, one of the co-founders of the assembly, writes ‘Eating is a simple, natural and universal act. Innocent, in appearance but entirely representative of society’s trends. If you look closely, you’ll often find a food system driven by global prices, food production led by big industrials and a way of consuming dictated by supermarkets. But we can try to cook up a completely different model. One where farmers are properly paid for their work, where consumers understand our planet’s challenges, where the city and the countryside reconnect and where we rediscover the true value of food.
The Food Assembly develops tools allowing everyone of us to reclaim control of what and how we eat. Now, we can better organise ourselves and reclaim our freedom.’
Originating in France, the network quickly expanded to Belgium and has this year seen new assemblies pop up all across Europe, including Spain, Germany and the UK. The fantastic thing about The Food Assembly model is that anyone can start their own.
The online platform facilitates direct sales between producer and consumer, who will then meet regularly at pop-up markets, creating a more efficient way of buying local food. Here’s how it works:
- Either an individual, a group of people, or an enterprise decides to launch an Assembly in a local cafe, a community centre, a school, a garden or a bar. They’re called the Assembly leaders.
- The Assembly leader contacts farmers and growers within a 150 mile radius who produce fruit and veg, meat, dairy products, bread, wine, honey, etc. and at the same time, the Assembly leader starts recruiting members who want to buy local food products.
- Once a handful of producers have signed up, along with 50 members, you can begin!
- Each week, the assembly leader publishes an online selection of local food products to members. Prior to that, producers fix the fair price they want for their products and the minimum orders that must be met for delivery.
- Members have 6 days to place an order on the website, by simply clicking on the products they want. There’s no commitment or subscription, each member is free to place an order, or not.
- Once orders have been placed, there are two possible outcomes. Either the producer’s minimum order has been met and you’re good to go, or it hasn’t been met. This means that producer won’t make a delivery that week. The evening before distribution, members receive a complete list of the products they’ve ordered and thus the amount they are charged. Members will then collect their purchases from the assembly’s distribution point.
Producers will still have a chance to meet with their customers in the same way that they would at farmers’ markets, but without the risk of having any leftover stock. Farmers are also able to set their own prices, so they know they are getting a fair deal. To compensate leaders for organising sales and also for the service itself, which covers technical support for the website, a small service charge is added.
The Food Assembly is a brilliant way to reconnect with your community and create a buzz around local food. If you’re interested in starting your own group, visit www.thefoodassembly.com
Featured image by Gemma Billings
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