What is LocalTable?
LocalTable is a for-profit enterprise that will deliver a box of fruit and vegetables to consumers within the Eurobodalla Shire every Friday for 40 weeks each year. Unlike most fresh food delivery businesses, LocalTable has adopted a model known as “community supported agriculture” (CSA) and will source only locally grown produce.
In a CSA model, also known as a “farm share”, consumers pay in advance and accept whatever produce the grower supplies each week. The growers promise to supply an equivalent “share” of the crop they have pledged to the subscribers. A CSA agreement between a grower and a consumer is similar to an investment, meaning the consumer experiences the same losses and surpluses as the grower over the 40 weeks of the agreement. The grower can be confident that their crop is sold before they sow and any unforseen disasters can be weathered. This is why the term “share” is used when referring to community supported agriculture.
LocalTable is a multi-farm CSA and will source produce from a number of growers in the local region to supply the shares. As LocalTable will take on the administrative burden and coordinate the work to pack and deliver the boxes each week, the participating growers are free to do what they most want to do: grow good food.
How will it work?
Local Table will make 40 shares available to consumers at a fixed price on a subscription basis. Each share entitles the subscriber to 40 weekly deliveries of locally grown fruit and vegetables, commencing in October each year and concluding in July the following year.
LocalTable undertakes to advertise and sell the 40 shares, however there is no guarantee that all 40 will be sold. As much as possible, orders will be placed with growers in advance, according to how many shares are sold at that time. If fewer than 40 shares are sold at the time of ordering, shares will continue to be sold, capped at 40 shares. Growers will be approached to supply those shares as they are sold. As much as possible, contents of the shares will be determined 3 months before the first delivery of the 40-week period.
While one share is a 40-week pledge from the subscriber to buy, payments will be automatically deducted from their bank account in advance every 4 weeks. Growers will receive payment for their contribution to the shares each week immediately on receipt of an invoice.
In return, growers must supply the agreed volume of each product they pledged to contribute to the shares each week on Friday mornings by 10am. Some cold storage is available by arrangement. If a grower has experienced crop failure for any reason, all efforts must be made to replace the product with an alternative of equal value or if that proves impossible, the grower must pledge to supply the missing volume to the shares in future weeks.
What will we pay?
LocalTable pays 80% of the grower’s regular retail prices for any product they contribute to the shares. The contents of the boxes are determined by product and price information submitted by growers. Prices should be scaled according to the number of shares sold, to maximise value for the subscribers. Providing this information as early as possible is essential for planning a steady supply of food for the subscribers and avoiding large fluctuations week-to-week.
Ideally, LocalTable will entirely plan the contents of the boxes according to what growers indicate will be available at what time. However, if gaps of supply are identified during planning, all participating growers will be invited to fill those gaps with products requested by LocalTable.
What’s in the box?
Contents will largely consist of staple, familiar foods, but also products that will extend the subscribers’ knowledge and appreciation of food. This will be assisted by the provision of recipe suggestions and other marketing intended to engage the subscribers with their local food system.
Shares will be available in two different sizes — small or large — and subscribers will have the option to pause and resume deliveries as they need, without financial penalty.
If a subscriber withdraws from the CSA entirely, LocalTable will endeavour to sell that share to another consumer. Orders and payments to growers will be adjusted in line with any refunds issued to subscribers by LocalTable until that share is purchased by a new subscriber.
In the case of paused shares, eg. a subscriber takes a holiday, LocalTable will endeavour to sell these boxes as a “one-off” opportunity to interested non-subscribers or existing subscribers who might like an extra box occasionally. Payments to growers will not be adjusted in these cases and any excess produce that LocalTable cannot sell will be donated to local community organisations.
What will we say?
Preference will be given to produce grown without the use of industrial agricultural chemicals. Market research undertaken in 2017 revealed a strong preference for food grown following organic principles, but the preference for official certification is low. LocalTable intends to foster a strong culture of trust with our subscribers by being transparent about the food we are supplying.
Where enough food grown free of industrial agricultural chemicals cannot be supplied, locally grown food using conventional growing methods will be sourced. Information about each item in the boxes will be made available to the subscribers, including the production methods used.
In the interest of transparency with our subscribers, we expect all participating growers to offer full disclosure about how they grow the food they contribute to the shares. LocalTable will also expect to be permitted to use images of the growers and their farms as well as information about them to communicate with the subscribers. Growers will be required to allow LocalTable access to their farms to create promotional and advertising content.