FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is FIG?
The Food Integrity Group Co-operative Limited. FIG is a community run, not-for-profit organisation which began in 2009 and became incorporated early in 2012.
How did FIG start?
A small group of people concerned about the use of chemicals and GM in food growing and farming, and produce being shipped half way round the country or the world (amongst many other issues), and wanting safe, healthy and preferably local food for their families and friends, decided to get together to discuss the issues and try do something to solve or overcome them. At that point they knew little of what local produce was available and were surprised to learn how few organic farmers were on the Central Coast. Discussions began in July 2008 and FIG opened its doors in February 2009.
Is all the produce Certified Organic?
Not all, however most of it is Certified Organic, some Biodynamic, then either “in conversion”, or guaranteed chemical-free.
Is all the produce local?
Eventually we would love to be able to say YES to this! We buy local where possible although this cannot be guaranteed year round due to seasonal fluctuations, the weather, time taken to grow trial crops and the simple fact not all produce is grown locally. At times the farmers just cannot keep up with demand. The vast majority of produce is sourced from the Central Coast region from the Hawkesbury up to Cooranbong, with much of it from Mangrove Mountain and Somersby, Dooralong and Fountaindale, and some coming on occasions from just past Lithgow, a radius of about 160 kilometres of Ourimbah. That farmer delivers to Sydney where our driver collects it on one of his usual Sydney trips and brings it back for us, so no further fuel miles are travelled, it piggybacks onto trips already being made. We also take in produce grown by co-op members and top up from a Sydney organic wholesaler to help meet our rapidly growing needs or cover a shortage in local supply.
Do I need to be a member to purchase the food?
People new to the co-op may order a trial mixed produce box for $35 before deciding if the co-op is going to be suitable, however after that initial sample they would be required to become a member of the co-operative.
Can I choose what I want in the boxes?
Not exactly, although we do have a variety of choices in categories (if you don’t like kale there could be silverbeet or bok choy instead, for example) and members can purchase freely from our fresh food market. For the box contents, we order from a list of produce the farmers supply us of fresh, in season vegetables and fruit. Buying produce in season means it is at its best, most nutritious (healthiest!) and least expensive.
Our society has moved so far from what is normal and natural that we expect our favourite vegies to be available all year round. Food doesn’t grow like that unless it is grown in some artificial manner and trucked or flown huge distances. It’s time we learned what our grandparents and great-grandparents viewed as normal – learning to cook and prepare food in season, even if that also means learning to deal with a glut! We cannot imagine ever getting sick and tired of our lovely local tomatoes but many will empathise with having to deal with zucchini 452 ways before the harvest is over! 😀
So… getting back to the FIG box contents and those categories, there is usually a set number of items for every box and then between 3-6 categories where there is more than one type of produce available. Eg, for a citrus category we usually have oranges and lemons but also mandarins when available. In a greens category we could have up to 3 types of kale, silverbeet, rainbow chard or bok choy, and sometimes more available; a member would have one item of this category in their box.
What if I’m growing some of the vegies at home? What if I’m allergic to something?
We do encourage a “grow-your-own” approach so if you are self-sufficient in some produce then you may swap up to two items from your box for something else on the extras table to the equivalent value. The same goes for food allergies; you may swap up to two items from your FIG box. In times of home garden abundance, perhaps you may need to pause the boxes for a week or two and just top up from the extras table. If you are healing from an illness or your child has multiple food sensitivities and most of the usual weekly box items are unsuitable, please get in contact with us to discuss any special requirements.
Do you have only vegie boxes?
Weekly FIG boxes form a large part of what we do but no, we have a whole lot more!
There is the Fresh Food Market where you may find more of what’s in the boxes plus lots of other fresh produce when in season and available such as garlic and ginger, apples, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, kale, silverbeet and other greens such as salad and lettuce, onions, herbs and mushrooms, etc.
And then there is Our Organic Pantry for nuts, flours, coconut products, dried fruit and herbs/spices, eggs and local raw honey, etc.
Please come in and have a look at our pantry range and the changing selection of produce throughout the seasons…
What are bulk orders?
Every fortnight throughout the year we conduct orders of bulk juicing carrots and apples, potatoes and other produce in season. Orders are placed and paid for one week and collected the following week.
How do I order online?
When your application to become a member has been processed you will be sent information about ordering online and a temporary password to the FIG web store. There you will find it really easy to navigate around, make an order or pause and reinstate orders, add eggs, check your balance, etc.
Can I pay by EFTPOS?
Yes. We accept cash, cheques, EFTPOS and bank deposits, so there is total flexibility with payment options!
I seem to have missed the cut off date for ordering or cancelling, what can I do now?
We have a cut off time of Wednesday night for orders for the following Monday. We do this as we require final numbers and therefore our budget amount so as to begin ordering almost immediately from our farmers for the following week.
If you’ve missed the cut off date for an order, email and ask to be placed on the waiting list for a box and we will contact you if one becomes available.
If you have decided to go away and wish make a late cancellation for the following week, please advise asap and we will try onsell the box for you. If we cannot do that, unfortunately you will lose the box/payment. (ie, cannot carry over payment to a future week).
I’m new to FIG, I don’t know if I’ll need a box every week.
That’s one of the great things about FIG. You order how it suits you and your family. You may require three boxes every week to feed the hungry hordes, or find that one box a fortnight more than sufficient or to complement what you’re growing yourself. With our “self managing” web store you may increase, decrease, pause and resume orders whenever you want, if before the cut off period of course. We have a regular order service where you can select weekly, fortnightly or monthly recurring orders. If you don’t have internet access, just order at the front desk.
What if I’m running late to collect my orders?
The pack up team begins clearing away just after 4.00pm and we lock up at 5.30pm although may still be standing around outside, chatting away. You may be held up by traffic jams, or at a medical appointment running late and so forth, so please phone us as soon as possible on 04166 47715 to arrange a later or alternate pick up. We can also leave a bag at the door for you to collect after we leave on Mondays.
Can you open later, for working people, do you open other days of the week?
Currently we operate on Mondays only, and in regards to opening later, we trialled that for some time and found our volunteers were waiting for one or two people to turn up before they could finish packing up and head home themselves – and those members were happy to have their bags left at the door. All the bags are prepacked, so if you cannot arrange someone else to collect the bag and are running really late, we can leave your order at the front door so you can swing past to collect it on your way home. You may also be interested in our FIG Host system where you may collect your bag from a member who lives local to you. Please email to enquire if this is in your area.
If members have ordered a box but do not collect it or contact us to arrange an alternate pick up, and we cannot contact them for whatever reason, then it will be donated to a family in need or a worthy cause. Sometimes it could be used for PR purposes or it might be unpacked and dealt with as below. We phone anyone who is running late wherever we can, and if we cannot reach you and you haven’t made attempts to contact us, in short, you will lose both food and your payment.
What do you do with leftover produce?
We try not to have too much of it! Non-perishable produce is packed away in our storage room at Ourimbah. Perishable food that will keep well under refrigeration is stored in the co-op’s commercial sized refrigerator.
Perishable produce that will not keep is usually handed out to the volunteers who are helping with the clean-up and pack-up at the end of the day, or donated to a family in need or a worthy cause. We have a couple of local charitable organisations who will collect or we drop off to if there is a larger amount of produce left. We donate on a regular basis and are pleased that our surplus is never wasted and goes to families in need.
If there is still perishable produce that no one can use, then chooks get the goodies or it is composted. We have members who are sustainability educators or belong to community gardens and they welcome “the scraps”!
Who is behind FIG, who are the directors and what does the board do?
The FIG directors currently are Marc Charette (Chair), Lois Goldsmith, Peta James, Rani De Kalb and Garth Schwartz. The board does the major decision making as well as all things necessary to keep FIG running smoothly and supporting the co-op operations and management team. Maree Beveridge, one of FIG’s co-founders, is co-op manager.
Can anyone come to meetings that you hold?
The FIG Annual General Meeting is held in November each year and all co-op members are warmly invited to attend. Board meetings throughout the year are generally attended only by directors and co-op manager however we encourage members to be part of any plans, surveys and “ latest happenings”! We welcome input, involvement and suggestions from all our members.
Can I see a copy of the co-op rules?
FIG adopted the full Co-operative Rules with minor changes pertaining to our membership structure, and you may read them here.
I cannot volunteer on Mondays, is there anything else I could do?
As well as setting up each week (weighing, bagging, packing, displaying produce), there is also cashier duties and pack away at the end of the day. If you cannot volunteer of a Monday, from time to time we have brochure folding, collating surveys, trips to the packaging company for brown paper bags, assisting at weekend stalls FIG holds throughout the year (eg, Alive Festival, Ecoburbia, Harvest Festival etc) and all sorts of little things you could assist with. You may prefer to be on the board, assist with marketing, strategic planning or help co-ordinate workshops or fundraisers. If so, we’d love to hear from you! Currently we are looking for two people to help conduct bulk order packing, once a month, content creators within our member base for Facebook and a seasonal recipes co-ordinator.
Gosh, all this sounds fantastic, what do I do now, where do I sign up?
We’re glad you like it! We love FIG, and all it stands for.
People new to FIG can trial a $35 mixed box by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and requesting one, a week in advance. Please supply your contact phone number and we’ll advise bank details so you can make a payment. Payment on pick up (cash, EFTPOS) may be arranged, just ask. If you like it you can then join. Please see the How to join page for details about joining up.
Of course, you can just leap in and become a member without a trial. Please email, or come in for a visit.
See you at the co-op…