By Danielle Kutchel
After an interval of more than six months, The Community Grocer has relaunched in Pakenham.
On Thursday 15 October, the fresh food market reopened at its new permanent home at Outlook on Toomuc Valley Road, with a focus on providing access for all to quality, affordable produce.
A steady stream of customers braved the winds and moved in socially distanced formation through the market, enjoying the variety of fresh produce available.
Russell Shields, CEO of The Community Grocer, said there were 60 different varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs available for customers to enjoy.
It’s a multicultural affair, with things like okra and ginger sitting alongside root vegetables and berries. As time goes on, it’s anticipated that much of the produce on offer will be drawn from local farmers and suppliers through connections with growers and organisations like Cardinia Food Circle.
The Community Grocer shut down earlier this year as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, amidst dropping numbers of shoppers and safety concerns.
The grocer is now able to return to trading as an outdoor market. The location at Outlook is under an awning, providing protection for the elements.
A key consideration of The Community Grocer is keeping produce affordable, especially during these tough times.
Their produce is around 60 percent cheaper than major outlets, with no mark up.One visitor commented that Japanese eggplants were available at the market for less than half the cost she would pay at the supermarket.
Customers are also able to order produce boxes online through The Community Grocer’s e-shop partnership with Open Food Network, via the Open Food Network platform: https://openfoodnetwork.org.au/tcg-pakenham/shop.
Over the next two weeks, The Community Grocer will also be supplying 100 boxes of produce for food relief, working with a number of local organisations.
Mr Shields said he and the team were looking forward to building customers and connections with the community.
“You can see the demand,” he said.
“Covid-19 means affordability is a key motivator in people’s purchases, along with our reliance on the global food supply chain.
“People want alternatives to corporatised food systems and they want to support community initiatives, and people want to support small, local businesses.”
The Community Grocer is open at Outlook Community Centre, 24 Toomuc Valley Road, every Thursday from 9am-1pm. Customers are encouraged to arrive early for the best produce.