Dublin Food Co-op

Dublin Food Co-op

The Dublin Food Co-op is a food co-operative located in The Liberties area of Dublin, Ireland, which deals primarily in organic wholefood produce. Based in a large former warehouse, the Co-op also provides a venue for a number of community and market events.

Operating for over 28 years, the co-op's founding pre-dates the more recent popularity of farmers' markets [1] and it has emphasised its distinctiveness with the slogan "Much more than a farmers' market!".[2] It is also distinguished from farmers' markets by excluding 'meat and meat products', in keeping with its constitution. [3]

Contents

History

Beginnings 1983-1985

The origins of the co-op lie with a group of activists brought together by the successful campaign against the construction of a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point in County Wexford. In 1983, a number of those involved met together to form an organisation through which members could 'shop in an ecologically sound way' and 'promote the rational use of the earth's resources'. Thus, a buying club for the collective purchase of wholefoods was established. [4] [5] [6] For one Saturday each month, the Co-op used a succession of locations in Temple Bar as a focal point to allow members to collect their pre-ordered wholefoods and socialise.

Pearse Street 1985-2007

In December 1985, the co-op arranged to rent the hall at St. Andrew's Resource Centre on Pearse Street, Dublin 2, every second Saturday and switched from monthly to bi-weekly order collections thereafter. [4] This location became the Co-op's base for more than two decades. From 1986, members were offered an opportunity to purchase fresh organic produce directly from producers trading on-site. Over time, this became an expanded part of the overall offering. With the co-op settled at the new venue, the process to formally incorporate as a co-operative limited company under the rules of the Industrial and Provident Society Acts 1893-1978 was initiated and Dublin Food Co-operative Society Limited thus came into being in February 1991. [7] In 1995, the Co-op switched away from the pre-order system in favour of carrying a range of stock for general purchase, accompanied by a move to weekly trading. [4] Concerns about the Pearse Street premises limiting the co-op's scope for development [4] remained a recurring theme over subsequent years and other alternatives were explored. [8] In 2007, the Co-op received planning permission and signed a lease on full-time premises in another part of the city. [9] Many members and local shoppers were keen to see food provision at St. Andrew's continue in some form and a producers' market - The Super Natural Food Market - took on the Saturday trading hours at the venue from August 2007.

Newmarket 2007-

The Dublin Food Co-op building at 12 Newmarket, Dublin 8

In July 2007, the Co-op switched operations to its current home at 12 Newmarket, Dublin 8, near St. Patrick's Cathedral, and extended its opening hours. [10] It was formally opened in October 2007 by Minister for the Environment John Gormley TD to coincide with Ireland's National Organic Week. [11]

A new Co-op trading area was constructed at the Newmarket premises during 2010. In keeping with its co-operative ethos, the bulk of the work to needed to open and subsequently develop the site was accomplished through the volunteer labour of members. [12]

Activities

The vast majority of pre-packed food the Co-op sells is organic and particular emphasis is placed on Fair Trade and environmentally-friendly produce. On Saturdays, local producers extend the range with stalls including organic vegetables and fruits, organic cheeses, eggs and dairy, organic wine, homemade artisan breads and cakes, organic clothing, books, magazines and essential oils. [6] The co-op offers extra opening on Thursdays, with some fresh fruit and vegetables available, and on market Sundays (pre-packed goods only).

At the time of its April 2011 Annual General Meeting, the Co-op had a membership of approximately 840. Members receive a 5% discount on purchases, which increases to 15% if they also volunteer on a rota system to assist with tasks such as shelf stacking. [13]

Since securing its own permanent space and making it available for hire, the Co-op has become home to regular events including the monthly Dublin Flea Market [14], Peas and Pods Family Market [15] and Newmarket Brocante, plus the annual Independents Day. [16] [17]

Distinctiveness

A 2009 academic study described Dublin Food Co-op as "distinctive on the Irish scene" because of its organisational structure. [5] It is one of only two Irish wholefood retailers run on co-operative principles and the only one to take the form of a consumers' co-operative - the other, the Quay Co-operative in Cork, is organised as a workers' co-operative. Dublin Food Co-op is thus unique in being owned and controlled by its member consumers who each hold a share and determine policy through annual meetings and other democratic mechanisms.

The study also argued that the Co-op "has a different pricing structure to conventional businesses, only adding the margin needed to cover its operating expenses". [5] This has, however, been questioned in recent criticism. [18]

Criticism

In June 2011, Dublin Food Co-op was publicly criticised over an alleged failure to respond appropriately to reports of a violent incident on its premises. A wider critique, published the previous month, also argued that it was no longer living up to key principles and was operationally 'dysfunctional'. [19] [18]

References

  1. ^ Carswell, Vanessa. Bite size: Farm fresh Sunday Business Post, 27 October 2007
  2. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website. ref. Homepage.
  3. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website. ref. Rules under Membership section
  4. ^ a b c d Douthwaite, Richard (1996). Short Circuit: Strengthening Local Economics for Security in an Unstable World. Dublin: Lilliput Press. ISBN 1874675600. 
  5. ^ a b c Aisling Murtagh and Prof. Michael Ward, Food Democracy in Practice: a case study of the Dublin Food Co-op Journal of Co-operative Studies, Volume 42, Number 1, April 2009, pp. 13-22
  6. ^ a b McFadden, Angela. New Phase for Dublin's Food Co-op. The Epoch Times. 23 July 2007.
  7. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website ref. About Us
  8. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op Newsletter, October 2005". http://www.dublinfood.coop/newsletters/dfc_newsletter_2005_10.pdf. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  9. ^ "Dublin Food Co-op Newsletter, February/March 2007". http://www.dublinfood.coop/newsletters/dfc_newsletter_2007_02.pdf. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  10. ^ Mooney , Sinead. Food Shorts: New home for food co-op The Irish Times., 7 July 2007
  11. ^ Kelly, Michael. What's going on The Irish Times, 20 October 2007
  12. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website. ref. Latest news.
  13. ^ Dublin Food Co-op website. ref. Membership / Volunteering.
  14. ^ Dublin Flea Market website.
  15. ^ Peas and Pods website.
  16. ^ Independents Day Blog
  17. ^ Carroll, Jim. Etc. The Irish Times, 5 December 2008
  18. ^ a b Moore, Dave (May 2011). "Dublin Food Co-op: What went wrong?". Indymedia Ireland. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/99819. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  19. ^ Moore, Dave (June 2011). "Has violence triumphed at Dublin Food Co-op?". Indymedia Ireland. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/99981. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 

External links

Coordinates: 53°20′16.56″N 6°16′36.96″W / 53.3379333°N 6.2769333°W / 53.3379333; -6.2769333


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