What is a Food Co-op?
A Food Co-op is a group of families buying food together and sharing the
labor involved to save money and/or to get better products or products
normally unavailable in their area.
What is Purple Dragon Co-op?
Purple Dragon Co-op was formed in 1987 to bring natural foods into our
area at prices closer to wholesale. In 1989, we began working to improve
the availability of exquisitely fresh organic produce for our members.
Janit London, a songwriter and veteran of many food co-ops, with 20 years
experience in the Natural Foods business, designed Purple Dragons
unique format, i.e., a new low-labor co-op model that works for todays
Ive Seen Other Groups Like Yours.
How is Purple Dragon Co-op Different?
Purple Dragon originated the idea of a mixed produce variety basket that
has been copied all over our area and has become a national trend. We
buy from many local organic and some ecological farmers and work closely
with them to support their efforts to grow food in an ecologically sound
manner in our own community.
We also shop up and down the East Coast, eastern Canada, the rest of the
US, Europe, New Zealand, Israel and buy from certain farms in Central
and South America and the Caribbean. When in doubt about a growers
authenticity, we double check certifications with reliable sources in
the industry. We work to provide you with the finest and most interesting
variety of organic produce available.
We work constantly to refine and improve our service. We welcome your
suggestions. We are also different in that we are the only group that
is really a co-op. Our members actually work (see How much do I
have to work?) This allows lower prices, better quality produce,
and we get to meet people with similar interests in our area. It is also
a chance to be closer to nature by handling the beautiful fruits and vegetables
soon after they arrive from local farms.
Another difference is that we stand up for what we believe. We recycle
all office paper, use only recycled paper, return crates to farmers and
support environmental and organic farming associations, including the
Organic Trade Association, CAFF, Sierra Club, NYCAP, NCAP, NOFA, American
Farmland Trust, and the NJ Organic Farming Association.
How Much Does It Cost?
$50-56* per delivery, depending on where you live and if you are able
to do dividing shifts or not. There are no dues or membership fees.
How Much Food Is It?
The amount of food in each delivery varies between 15-30 pounds. An example
of a delivery is on the enclosed letter. The amounts of any one item are
always reasonable one or two lettuces, 2 1/2 pounds of apples or
How Often Are Deliveries?
Every other week.
How Do We Get Our Food?
Every other week, after the food has been divided, you go to your local
pick-up point, get your share, sign in on the sign-in sheet, and leave
your check for next time.
How Much Do I Have To Work?
One person from a household works one hour every three months, locally,
helping to divide the produce. Complete instructions are provided. We
ask that you leave small children at home they divide the food
very creatively, but not necessarily fairly!
What If I Cant Work My Shift?
You call other members to see who can switch with you, or pay a substitute,
(friend, teenager or other member usually $15) to do your dividing
for you. Many groups with weekday pickups charge an extra $2 each time.
This way, people who can do the dividing shift are credited $15 each,
which they deduct from their payment for the next delivery. (They leave
a check for $24* on the day they divide.)
What Happens If Ill Be Away On A Delivery
You find someone to pick up for you, or, weather permitting, ask the hosts
permission to pick up later. You need to find someone to buy your share
if youll be away for a longer stint. A neighbor, relative or friend
may be interested in trying the Co-op by buying your share, or you may
wish to give your share as a gift. Give the name and phone number of the
person picking up your share to your Co-ordinator. If necessary, we may
skip a delivery if many people at one location will be away at once.
What If I Need Extra Produce?
You may order bags of carrots for juicing, organic coffee, or other produce
items by calling the office five days before your normal delivery day.
These items are delivered with your veggies. Others in your group may
want to share extra boxes of apples, oranges, potatoes or eggs (just a
few examples) with you.
What If I Need Extra Fruit?
Fruit Shares are available for households which need additional fruit,
and are designed to complement the fruit in the regular share. If your
group gets fruit shares (at least four people participating,) they cost
$17. If not, you can order a single fruit share for $20.
What If Its Too Much Food For Me?
You can share your share with another person. We will try to help you
find a share partner if you like.
What Other Products Can We Get?
Besides produce, we offer natural vitamins, juicers, water filters, natural
shampoos, and more at substantial savings.
How Do I Join?
If we serve your area, you will find the name of our closest group host(s)
on the enclosed card. Call that person and join if there is an opening,
or get on their waiting list if there is no spot available at present.
If we dont deliver to your area yet, we can help you organize a
group. If you host a group at your home, you receive a substantial discount.
Im Moving To Nebraska.
How Can I Continue To Get Fabulous Organic Produce?
Purple Dragon can train you in our complete method for a home-based business.
Please call or write for more information.
What If I Dont Like It?
We recommend that you try three deliveries before deciding. You may leave
the group by giving your host at least two weeks notice. You may
rejoin whenever there is an opening, or you may occasionally substitute
for other members by letting your coordinator know you are available for
Read more about us!
Sharing the Wealth (and the Veggies)
Edible Jersey, Spring 2012
“Wow! I just unpacked my bag, and I'm already thinking
that this might be the best thing I've done for myself in a long time!!
Thanks so much!”
—Gena, new member
“By the way, I want to say thanks for continuing to provide us with
great quality produce for a respectable price. I have needed to buy additional
produce to get me to the next Co-op delivery a few times and had to pay
a lot for less than great quality at my local supermarket or I had to
pay an arm and a leg for comparable quality at a specialty store. And
the variety available was nowhere near what we get biweekly through the
co-op. (Even at the nearby big chain Natural Foods store!!) Thanks again
for your efforts.”
You guys saved my life! After living in California where organic
produce is so available and moving here where its hard to find, I finally
Being pregnant and not being able to shop is awful. Having this
terrific food appear is just great. To get the whole box for $44 is amazing
and the variety is wonderful!
From a delivery just before a big snowstorm:
Friday evening, Lisa and her husband Francois offered their apartment
for the messy work of dividing. After we put our kids to bed, we started
counting, weighing and chatting. Then we drank a bottle of amazing champagne.
Talk about entering the Co-op spirit with a bang!