September 23, 2013

Online buying club boosts local-food access


Interested in joining or starting a group? There are no fees to join, start or maintain a group. The only costs you will encounter are associated with delivery fees, a varying amount that will be split among all members of the group. Go to the website and click on the “Find a Group” tab at the top of the page. Enter your zip code, and all the existing groups in your region will appear. 

Do any of them look appealing to you? If not, go ahead and click on “Start a Group.” As a group coordinator, you can earn a small commission and oversee the general operation — there’s even a handy “new coordinator guide.” This will take time and energy so if you have neither of those — but want the food — just join an existing group.

The Wholeshare system has some sweet attributes. Each member is responsible for placing his or her own order online and pays for the order by credit card, eliminating the communication and financial headaches of other buying-club cooperatives. There is a nifty “split” system whereby you can order a partial case of a product — say 5 pounds of potatoes from a 15-pound bag. The other members of your groups are alerted to this, giving them an opportunity to join in on the split. As soon as the 15 pounds of potatoes have been spoken for, the order can be placed. All of the members’ orders that are ready will be filled at each delivery date. Unfilled splits remain in the system until filled at some future delivery.

The next task is to encourage more of our local farmers to use Wholeshare as an outlet for their marketing. Another option is for community-supported agriculture groups to start a Wholeshare group so that more local food can be accessed at the regular CSA distribution. The future of local foods is bright. Find more information at, and visit to find local farms, farmers markets and CSAs.

Laurie Davis is an educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Essex County and is the coordinator for Adirondack Harvest. Reach her at 962-4810, Ext. 404, or by email:

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