This is a very simple idea that can be very effective in keeping resources local. It was mentioned on page 5 of the Principles as an example project.
In the current times, food gets exported as much as it gets imported which makes absolutely no sense and means a lot of transportation costs have to be met and air pollution is created which can be reversed with good organisation.
For one, food that is produced on farms should be sold locally to meet the pubic demand wherever possible. Maybe some of you could get together to try to enhance this situation by contacting shops and farms and pushing to change the business practices.
Otherwise, it could also provide a work opportunity for local people to grow their own food and sell it to local grocers. It is not necessary to target the large supermarkets, with whom it would probably be more difficult to get them to buy your produce instead of their cheaper imported food but The People’s Supermarket (TPS), which has started in London, is focused on selling locally grown and produced food. It is an enterprise that is taking off well and is supported by a large number of people. To have this system in every town would be great and the proof that it already works in one area means it can work anywhere. Visit their website for more information.
To give an outline of how it could work, imagine that a few people buy shares in a small grocery shop (if necessary). Each person should then have equal rights in terms of the decisions made about how it runs. The reason I say this is because I wouldn’t want there to be any arguments about one partner claiming to have more rights because they put in the greatest amount of money. It’s not going to help the business or the relations between the partners so this should be agreed upon at the start.
To acquire the goods for sale, a list of contacts should be made consisting of the people that grow various fruits and vegetables or also make bread, cakes, biscuits, etc. As the prices need to be competitive with the bigger supermarkets, this would have to be carefully arranged or you won’t get as many customers as you could have. As TPS mentions, this is not actually a problem as it costs very little to grow food anyway. This local food should also be fresher as it will be organic and not ‘treated’ like supermarket food, which is actually designed to look nice but go bad after a shorter time than it naturally would (to make greater profit from more regular sales).
With this kind of shop, there would probably be a fair number of people involved in the overall running of it, which would help the word get around that it is supporting the local community better. This would be help the customers to get to know about it sooner and shop there to give their support. TPS has volunteers working in it to minimise the running costs, where members are asked to work in it for at least 4 hours a month. This is also a great way of getting more people involved in the project and also for unemployed people to feel they are able to do something valuable for the community. Even if you don’t get paid to work in the shop, it is important to have a sense of purpose in one’s life.
As an aside, growing flowers to be sold in such a shop is another opportunity that could be open to anyone who wants to do this.
Also, see the Local Markets project for further opportunities for selling local produce.