Upper Hutt residents will soon be able to keep their food costs down with the re-opening of the Upper Hutt Fruit & Vege Coop.
More than 110 people have already signed up to the co-op, which from Wednesday June 22 will sell $15 packs of affordable, healthy fruit and vegetables. The Co-op is reopening following a six-month break after it lost its previous coordinator and its host organisation, Heretaunga Christian Centre, which successfully ran the Co-op for four and a half years.
The Co-op is reopening with support from Upper Hutt City Council’s community development team who have provided a temporary coordinator. It also has a new host organisation, Greenstone Doors, a Hutt-based charity which supports women and their whānau during and after pregnancy.
The new coordinator, Georgie Rhoades, works as a Community Development Advisor with the Council and is a long-time Co-op member.
“I was keen to help the Co-op re-open because of the role it plays in both providing affordable kai for local whānau and building community connections,” she says.
She instigated the role of coordinator as part of her work with the Council so she could help support the Co-op in the first stages of its re-opening. The Co-op will eventually move to being fully independent.
“I’m excited to help get the co-op up and running because it provides value and support for the community. It makes sense for me to be the co-ordinator because my job with the council involves working with the community on initiatives that encourage community connections, which is one of the things the Co-op does.”
She says the cost-of-living crisis makes re-opening the Co-op even more important. Members pay just $15 for a selection of three to four vegetables and another three to four types of fruit – less than they would pay at a supermarket.
“Many people are finding it hard to provide healthy food to their whānau, and there’s no doubt that using the co-op helps keep costs down. I think the fact that more than 110 people have already signed up shows how popular the idea is.”
The Upper Hutt Fruit & Vege Co-op is one of 10 packing hubs in the Wellington Region Fruit & Vegetable Co-op, a not-for-profit buyers’ collective run by Wesley Community Action and Wellington Regional Public Health. Produce-buyer Cory Hope orders around 9 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables from local suppliers and growers every week. These are delivered to the 10 packing hubs early on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings, where volunteers pack them into individual packs which can then be collected from local pickup points.
“Because we buy the produce in bulk we are able to keep the costs down,” he says. “We are powered by volunteers which also helps to keep prices down and builds a real sense of community and purpose.”
Upper Hutt City Council director of community services, Mike Ryan says they’re delighted to help support the re-opening of the Upper Hutt Fruit & Vege Co-op.
“Initiatives like this fit with our kaupapa, which is to encourage community engagement and community-led development.”
- For more information about how to join the Upper Hutt Fruit & Vege Coop contact Georgie Rhoades on 021 229 6185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org