Details for the Farmers
(and other producers!)




"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin."  
Zechariah 4:10

We are beginning this new co-op with an understanding that we will likely start small, and we will refine our process along the way, with both producers and customers.  

We will do our best not to "upset the apple cart" as we make necessary adjustments, and we will aim to not make too many changes too quickly!

We thank you for your patience, as well as your feedback, which will help us make this system better faster!

 We have spent several years worth of time talking to farmers and customers.  Customers often live in the cities or the suburbs, and, while they want to shop from a farm, it is often too far away for them to do so.

Farmers tell us that they'd love to deliver to their customers (and some of them do), but that the hard part, for them, is that they really don't have the time to get away from the farming!  Plus, the expense of the delivery eats into their profits so much that they either have to raise their prices too much to sell anything, or they just take the loss.

This is where we come in!

Here's how it works:

Customers will be able to place orders from your farm (and others) at one time through Alabama Farm Co-op.  We are prepared to take the orders and payments, create invoices for each customer's purchase(s), and pay each farm what they are due for each order.


We will set up a route for the participating farms, where our delivery staff will pick up the weekly orders either at your farms or at a nearby pickup location. (Alternate option, for your convenience, is that you drop it off to us within 24 hours of our delivery day.)  We will bring them back to refrigerators and freezers for storing overnight.  Then, we will sort the orders by customer and deliver to drop points the next delivery day (with additional pickup options over several days).

We will manage orders, payments, delivery, and communications to the customers, while we tell them all about your farm and all that you offer!

What will it cost me?

PRODUCER MEMBERSHIP FEE:  

We aren't out to take from farms OR from customers.  Our aim is that this service pays for itself, and with that, we will be very happy!  

But, we do believe that a little "buy-in" goes a long way.  So, for your first year, we have a partnership fee of just $99 for each farm/producer to participate in this co-op system.  
This fee will allow us to add to our website and better advertise our co-op for YOUR benefit!   Your annual renewal fee will be just $49 each consecutive year after that.  
(This fee is non-refundable and will be due upon joining and then renewed January 1st of each calendar year.  Joining now will extend to December 31, 2024.)

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD:  As we are still in the creation phase of the co-op, we are not only offering customers a discounted membership fee--we also want to offer farms a discount!
For the farms and producers who join during 2023 or 2024, we are offering a $75 partnership fee!  (This partnership will expire December 31, 2024.)


Why would we do this?  Because we have customers interested in multiple regions of Alabama, so we need FARMS in multiple regions. 
As we add your region, we hope you'll join us!  Customers are banging on our door to get this started! 


ADVERTISING AND MARKETING FEE:  

We have been crunching numbers based on the 6.5 years of running a co-op just like this, and we are also researching the costs of what it will take to run the whole operation.  
It looks like, in addition to the fee to participate, we will require a monthly fee of 15% of your sales total, for Advertising and Marketing.  
We had hoped that we could have customers cover all of the expenses with their delivery fees, but we know that a steep delivery fee will potentially lose customers for all.  
So, to keep the delivery fee reasonable, we must ask this from the producers.

Our aim is that this is a WIN for the farms and a WIN for the customers.!  And then it will be a WIN for us!

***NOTE TO THOSE AT A DISTANCE FROM OUR HOME BASE:  If we have to drive outside of our "home base" region to pick up from your farm, we may have to ask an additional 5 or 10% fee to cover the pickup costs. Customers will pay for the cost of delivery to THEIR area, but if pickup is at a significant distance, we will have to cover that cost this way. 
The alternative would be that you deliver to us at our home base OR at least to one of our regional farm pickup locations.  We can discuss these options with you!***
What Producers Should Expect
We know you are busy producing, whether you are raising animals, growing vegetables, picking fruits, bottling honey, or making any other product you sell.  We only need you to keep doing that!

As we take customer orders and payments, we will keep strict documentation of every penny, and do the work so that the sales come directly to you!  (In some ways, we are serving merely as the "waiter", by taking the order and payment and delivering the order to the customer.) 

Then, on Farm Pickup Day (currently, Tuesdays), you need only have the order ready for us!  We will pick everything up from you along our Farm Pickup Route, take back to the location we have with refrigerators and freezers (and shelves), and then we will deliver to the Customer Drop Points on Thursdays.

***

To summarize for you:
*We will take the orders from customers before Thursdays at 5:00pm CST.
*We will send you the weekly order from your farm/business on Friday morning.
*We will pick up the order from you at a Farm Pickup Location on Tuesday at your pickup time, or you can drop off to us on Wednesdays, during a certain window of time.
*We will deliver to the customer drop points on Thursdays, and also have pickups on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
*You get paid through our payment system, or by check.

*********************************************************************************

Do you have any questions?  Or any suggestions that may help better our system? PLEASE tell us your thoughts!  Head over to our CONTACT US page for all the ways to reach us!
A Couple Notes from Melissa to the Farmers...
Here are a few of Melissa's thoughts that apply to your participation in our co-op!
ABOUT YOUR PRICING

We strongly suggest that your pricing through the co-op system be higher than the prices you charge at your farm. This is for two reasons:

1) It may cost you some time and/or money to get your products to us, and we do not want that to be a loss to you.  Cover your expense with a slight increase of the price of each product.

2) Our mission and purpose is to get more customers to your farm. This slight increase in pricing is also an incentive for customers to skip our co-op and come directly to their farmer for their food.  Yes, we know that many cannot or will not (and for those, we will deliver near them), but we still want to encourage them to come to you!  Even if we don't get the sale through our co-op, we will be fulfilling our main purpose!
CONTACT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS

We know how important it is for the customers to really KNOW from where their food is coming!  And we know that you want to know your customers, too!  As the middle-man in this process, here is what we will do to bridge the gap and encourage this:

First, WE will get to know you!  The more we know about you, your farm, and your practices, the more we can tell others about it!  (And we LOVE to tell others about YOU!)  

Second, it will be our constant practice to encourage customers to drive to your farm at least once!  I cannot count how many times I have told previous co-op customers, "PLEASE go at least once. It will be WELL worth your drive to go meet your farmer and to see exactly where your food is coming from!"   We will do the same here and encourage every customer to visit each farm from which they are ordering!

And third--and one of my most favorites--we would love to come and host one of our Co-op Customer Appreciation Days at your farm sometime!  We will work with you to set up a farm tour, provide a product "tasting" of some kind (with snacks or a meal), and to let our co-op customers hear from YOU!  It is such a special time, and (I know I keep saying this....) it helps us keep bringing the customers directly to YOU.  They may only drive to you this one time, but it makes ALL the difference!  
We are seeing so much interest from farms in multiple areas that we have set up a Farm Pickup Route with specific pickup points and times. (We anticipated this would happen over the years, but it appears that we will have to start off this way.)  We will be able to allow any producer to join us by either meeting us on Pickup Day at the location and specific time we are at your nearest Farm Pickup Location OR by having you bring the order to our central location during available hours.  (These hours will expand as we grow!)

We know that this may seem an inconvenience to some, but keep in mind, you won't be meeting us or delivering to us for POTENTIAL sales...you'll be doing this after sales have already been made!  You might even trade in your all-day farmers' market for our co-op for this very reason! 

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact us!  
I'm in!  What do I do next?
It is very important for us to talk with Farms and Producers before you sign up, so this process is not automated at this time.  We want to get to know you and for you to hear from us.  This can be a longterm partnership, and we want to get off on the best foot!  
 
 
First, fill out the Producer Info Form.  (This is not a contract. We will call you to discuss everything.)

Once you have paid your Partnership Fee, we will put your information on our website and share it with our subscribers and followers.

We will need your farm's info, photos you'd like us to use, and your product and price list(s) to share them with the customers.  

Once we have you in the system, we will begin taking orders for your farm with the others on order days!
Want to try out our Co-op for just a QUARTER of the year?
Some producers only have product at certain times of year--and the rest of the year, they are all sold out.  For example, some beef producers only process once in the spring, sell all of their beef by the quarter, half, or whole, and then they are done for the year.  Our QUARTERLY PRODUCER MEMBERSHIP is the perfect opportunity for these producers to get their products in front of our customers!  Check out this page for more info on how this will be different than our Annual Producer Membership.  
Our Mission

We said it on the Home Page, but we'll say it again here:  

Our passion (and mission) is to bring the customers to the farms....by bringing the farms' products to the customers!

It's as simple as that!
Not interested in the co-op's delivery system, but have a product you'd like to see on our SHELVES?  Contact us to discuss possible options.
We aim to have at least ONE storefront available at which customers may shop when they come to the Customer 
Pickup Location to get their co-op order! We have our own ideas, but we welcome YOUR ideas, as well!

 What are you waiting for?
"Six months from now, you'll either be glad you started today, or you'll wish you had!"
--Unknown


 

Copyright Alabama Farm Co-op