The Flame Tree Community Co-op Limited opened in Thirroul on the 27th of February 2010. For the previous two years members of the Wollongong, Northern Suburbs community worked towards providing a shop front for local, organic wholefoods and homecare products. The interest and support from the broader Illawarra community was really encouraging and less than two years later we have over 400 members who regularly shop at, work for and support our cooperative shop.
The co-op is committed to its stock being local, organic and as unpackaged as possible. We have already begun to make links with local organic farmers, community gardeners and food producers. By buying food grown and made locally we’re reducing food miles and supporting regional sustainable initiatives.
Because of our commitment to unpackaged food, we try to stock most of our food and cleaning products in bulk. This means that when you come to the co-op you will need to bring your own jars and containers. You will weigh your container, write its weight on it and then use the scoops provided to fill it. When you come to paying for the goods, the weight of your container is deducted from the weight of your goods. Buying your food like this has a number of advantages. Most importantly, you’re reusing packaging rather than creating more waste. You’re also only buying as much or as little as you need.
Even though the co-op has started in a small shop, we stock a wide range of products. Nuts, teas, coffee, milks, cheeses, flours, herbs and spices, bread, laundry powder, miso, tempeh, tamari and olive oil to name just a few. Because Flame Tree is a cooperative, members should feel free to make suggestions and requests.
The co-op is run entirely by volunteers, so volunteering is an excellent way to support the co-op. While members don’t have to volunteer, volunteering at the co-op earns you an added discount. There are two types of volunteer. The first type of volunteer comes to the co-op for a two hour block on an irregular basis. This type of volunteer receives one 25% discount for every 2 hours that they spend volunteering. The second type of volunteer is one that commits to volunteering for the equivalent of 2 hours every week. This person will receive a 25% discount every time they shop.
Volunteer activities are wide ranging. Jobs might include:
– Helping customers
– stocking shelves
– webpage maintenance
– book keeping
– shop maintenance