Established in 1997, the first of its kind this side of the city, social enterprise Grasslands Organic Cooperative provides sustainable, locally sourced organic vegies and produce. Grasslands is mainly run by volunteers to keep costs low. We speak with coordinator Emille and her volunteers, Jemila, Miguel and Dave.
What can you tell us about Grasslands?
Jemila: It was set up to provide a place for people in the community to access organic vegetables from local farmers. It’s volunteer run. You can order a box from us and pick and choose what goes in the box, as long as it’s in season and in stock. We do deliveries too.
Miguel: It’s socially responsible. We support farmers ethically. Everything is non GM (genetically modified), organic and sustainably produced.
Dave: Emille provides training for volunteers. They gain work experience and many go on to paid employment.
Who shops here?
Emille: Rock stars! (a member of Daddy Cool just picked up an order during this interview), people interested in social enterprises.
Jemila: People who like to feel part of something.
Miguel: Yeah, they get to know us. Emille will know their address off the top of her head if they ever forget.
Why do you like working in Footscray?
Emille: The diverse range of customers and street life.
Jemila: I was ordering vegies through here (before volunteering), then I moved here. It helped me feel more connected to the community.
What’s your long term vision for Grasslands?
Jemila: We’d like to see more people in Footscray buying local produce. I’m trying to arrange boxes to be delivered to Victoria University students and staff so its easier for them.
Miguel: We like being part of the greater movement. We’d like to keep culturally influencing the community, so they can make more educated choices about their food. So they can decide for themselves.
What would you like our readers to know about your store?
Emille: That we’re here. We’re limited in open hours but trying to get to as many people as possible. If we could get a few more people through the door that would be good – we’re a shoestring operator.
Dave: Our opening hours won’t be affected by the RRL work. We’re still open to the public.
Grasslands Organic Cooperative
Open Thursdays 10am-6pm
211 Nicholson Street Footscray