Notre Dame faculty, staff, students participate in food Co-op
Katie Peralta | Thursday, October 1, 2009
In an effort to supply their families with organic, fair-trade food while at the same time supporting northern Indiana farmers, area residents, including Notre Dame faculty, staff, students and alumni, are turning to Purple Porch Co-op, a new local organization that connects people directly to area producers.
The farmers and growers of Purple Porch provide fresh seasonal produce, dairy products, grains and meats to area residents, Greg Koehler, a co-founder and Purple Porch volunteer said.
“[Farmers provide] produce like apples, butternut and winter squash, pumpkins, gourds, lettuce, local honey and lots of grains,” Koehler said. “We have meat producers whose animals are naturally raised and grass-fed.”
According to the organization’s Web site, Purple Porch was founded last year after area residents became discontented that the produce at their local grocery store was often imported from many miles away. The group is named after the purple porch on which product distribution initially took place.
“This is not a business that benefits one person,” Koehler said. “We all benefit. It’s everybody’s.”
Koehler said since the cooperative’s inception last spring, membership has grown to over 100 paying members.
Rebecca Bonsib of Earth Cure Farm Producers agreed that the cooperative has benefitted her business.
“It’s been good exposure,” she said.
Members of the cooperative pay a fee of $35 per year, Notre Dame alumna and volunteer Liz Zaph said. Product orders, she said, can be made conveniently online, where farmers advertise their seasonal products. Members then pick up their orders weekly at a distribution center.
“I like [Purple Porch] because I can go online and see what they have,” Zaph said. “I get a better feeling of what’s in season.”
Zaph said she also enjoys the close-knit community of people at the weekly two-hour product distribution.
“It’s neat getting to know the growers and farmers,” Zaph said.
Farmers and producers also like the idea of a cooperative because of the online feature.
“I like the ordering direct from the customer,” Marty Fair, who co-owns Fair Bakery of Rochester, Ind.
Referring to the fact that farmers know exactly how much to bring to distribution from the online sales, Fair said, “You don’t overproduce or waste.”
“By ordering ahead of time, small famers are not stuck with stuff they don’t sell at the end of the day,” Notre Dame political science professor and Purple Porch member Matthew Doppke said. Doppke is also a volunteer with the cooperative.
Doppke and Koehler both hope to market the cooperative to Notre Dame students, especially graduates and off-campus undergraduates.
“Today’s students are very savvy on the Internet,” Koehler said. “They could order online conveniently.”
Doppke and Koehler both hope to involve the University with the cooperative. Those interested can visit the organization’s Web site at www.purpleporchcoop.com