Online produce shop reborn

IT'S SUCH a good idea, and its time surely has come.

For those who can't get to the farmers', organic or car boot markets to buy fresh, locally grown produce every week, EcoMart Northern Rivers Co-op was started up to provide a service whereby growers with surplus vegetables, fruit, honey (or whatever), could sell online to consumers.

Buyers could go online and order up a box of produce of their choice, at agreed prices with growers, and the following Friday have it delivered to their home or office in Lismore.

But good ideas like this frequently have some teething problems, and EcoMart, whose website was first put up in 2010, is just getting over theirs.

A message on Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell's Facebook page calling for volunteers to join up brought along fresh blood and new enthusiasm.

EcoMart is to be reborn within the next few weeks as a viable market provider of locally grown fresh produce, and is expecting to resume deliveries by Friday, March 22.

"Now we will be supplying customers with boxes of produce that will be almost entirely locally grown," EcoMart co-founder John Knapen said.

He said EcoMart was encouraging backyard gardeners to put any surplus they had up for sale.

"It's a good way for people on fixed or low incomes to supplement their income by a few extra dollars," he said.

"One of the people who has recently come on board was Terry Lawrence, president of Rainbow Region Community Farms and co-ordinator of the Lismore Community Gardens, where people have their own plots of land to grow whatever they like.

"Some of them have enough surplus to become suppliers. They don't need to have a big surplus, maybe just one pumpkin here or a couple of lettuces there, that would go to waste if they didn't pass them on."

John said the expansion of urban agriculture - backyard food-producing gardens - was one of the aims of EcoMart.

For a once-only joining fee and $20-a-year subscription, producers can sell their food and name their own prices.

Growers give 15% of each total order to EcoMart for distribution and other costs.

For more information, phone Effie on 6628 3305, John on 6689 9375, or visit the website,

The Facebook page is called EcoMart Northern Rivers Co-op Ltd.

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