The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to save money in 2008: Feeling our way forward

daily bread“If we set up a co-operative food buying scheme you might find yourself having to deal with Frog Face.”
Danny’s voice drifted across the duvet.
Frog Face is one of a few people that I dislike in the village. He gave me the reverse V sign when I was collecting for Kidney Research one year.
“He’d claim that you short changed him. And what about The Weevils? They’d never trust your scales. You can’t start a cooperative and ban people that you don’t like.”

The night before we had plotted for hours. We tentatively planned to start a food cooperative in Cheveley with a handful of key members who would take responsibility for organising and running the project. As the red wine raced through our veins it seemed like a great community spirited idea and a good way of cutting our weekly spend.

In the cold light of dawn I had woken and fretted about collecting the money, the problems of deliveries getting wet when they were left on doorsteps on a rainy day. And how would we accommodate truck loads of goods, find the time to repackage and deliver them? If the scheme was successful it would have an impact on John’s business in the village shop. It was a relief that Danny was having second thoughts too.

“Why not see if there’s a local cooperative that we can join.”
A brief sojourn on the internet threw up a list of local Co-Op shops in the region. There were no small groups. Then I found a project in Cambridge (Kings Hedges) that sells food wholefoods for a small profit. Daily Bread is a workers co-operative founded on Christian principles. It employs many people with a history of mental illness and learning difficulties.

I was working in Cambridge on Saturday so Jalopy and I nosed into the Daily Bread car park. Most products were much cheaper than Tesco or Waitrose. The shop has a wide range of wholefoods, organic food, cleaning products, fair trade items and the widest range of flour that I have ever seen. There are also real nappies and baby products. I have been searching for fenugreek for months and finally discovered it there.

Apparently quite a few customers travel up from London to shop at Daily Bread. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday and well worth a visit if you are passing.

We have had fabulous comments and suggestions on our first saving money in 2008 post and are already investigating the idea of veg box deliveries and having a supermarket delivery every other week. We couldn’t give up our weekly visit to our butcher, Fred Fitzpatrick. It’s fun and his meat is great value.

I already feel much more empowered and excited about the challenge.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Magic Cochin

    I found the place almost impossible to find. In the end I asked some kind people in a 7/11 on the Arbory Estate.

    The turning is bang opposite the Cambridge Regional College, in between 2 new office style buildings. When you turn in it is easy to see.

    Re supermarkets, I have shopped at most. Every one excels in some areas and is not so good in others. I reckon that it’s best to go to the one that hits the right buttons the most (and these do change).

    There are not many local veg box schemes that will deliver to us! We can’t grow enough veg to satisfy D’s potato needs. Last year a lot of the veg patch was dedicated to his spuds 144 feet succumbed to bight…

    If I can find some veg box schemes locally I am going to give them a whirl. Thanks so much for the tip about the Histon Road stand, much appreciated.

    Hi nà

    Happy New Year to you both too! Hope that you had a great time on yout UK trip.

    I’d love be involved in a local cooperative food scheme but don’t have the time to organise one this year. However I must try and make time as I do think that this is the best way forward.

    Hi Pat,

    Guess what? I was dredging the pond and looked up and saw some green fennel seed. Plan to pluck it next weekend!

    Growing your own food is a wonderful experience. Nothing matches collecting stuff for supper, breakfast or even just to guzzle there and then!

  2. Best of luck Fiona. Funny but wine has that effect on me as well, things start to become clearer and the ideas just start flowing. My attempt this year is going to be growing some of my own foods. I am definately going to be going in for squashes and alot of them. I got a really lovely pressie from my neighbour a Huge box of veg. They have a farm and the veg was really lovely.

  3. magic cochin

    Thank you Fiona – I’ve now printed out a map showing the location of Daily Bread. It’s a short detour off my route to and from my mum’s house, and I’ve intended to check it out for some time. Distracted by all the new roads off King’s Hedges into the new housing development I miss the turn – AAGGHH! and end up at the Milton Road junction. So with other things to do I continue to the A14. I hearby publicly resolve to find the Daily Bread shop in 2008!
    I found the comment about Waitrose being good value if you’re not buying ready-meals etc, very reassuring. My neighbours chastise me for not shopping at Aldi and list all the “great” things Aldi does better/cheaper – bottled water, cut flowers, biscuits, eggs – none of those are on my shopping list. About once a year we venture in – on recommendation I bought 4 packs of the incredibly cheap parmesan – never again! it was greasy and rubbery and tasteless! Haven’t returned since they enlarged the store – I’m sure there are bargains to be had.

    I think veg box schemes have really improved – 12 years ago we had a veg box weekly, it was OK, but it tended to repeat what we had on the allotment. Now my favourite veg supply (apart from my garden) is the farm stall at 100 Histon Rd Cottenham nr Cambridge. Everything is priced at £1 (eg a cauliflower, a bag of 4 or 5 large parsnips, a stick of sprouts). You post your payment through the farmhouse letterbox.

    Good luck with your challenge
    Celia x

  4. hello there fiona – happy new year to you both! looks like i have some catching up to do on your recent posts! i’ve just read this first one and it sounds exciting. we’re part of a similar thing here in italy, organised with lots of our friends near here – a type of organic/ethical buying group – and rather than deliver we usually meet up once a month for the distribution and also have dinner all together, at someone’s house. it’s fun!

    well, must sign off, unpacking, tidying, preparing for work to get done, but will be back soon to catch up on your other posts. have a good day, nà

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