Getting produce to customers and managing the distribution, retail and admin stuff is often a real sticking point for food enterprises. So the Open Food Network has been set up by a group of community activists who are passionate about setting up local food systems that work well and are fair for the producers as well as the customers with a view to building food sovereignty.
OFN is an open source, not-for-profit, online platform cooperative which allows food producers to sell direct to the public and work easily with community groups to set up any kind of food distribution or retail project.
If you are coming to the Oxford Real Farming Conference you can hear from a panel of people who are using OFN in different ways to support their enterprises including farmers, growers, community food hubs and distribution businesses. The session will be in the Christopher Room at 2.30 on Wednesday 8th January.
OFN is being used by enterprises across the country to build:
• Links between individual producers so that farms can not only sell their own produce direct to the public but they can also:
– Sell the produce of other local farms through their OFN ‘shopfront’
– Make distribution arrangements with neighbouring farms so that they can collect and deliver each other’s produce and make a small income from this
• Veg box schemes where customers can order online with the option to build their own
boxes and even vary them on a weekly basis
• Community Supported Agriculture projects with an online joining process and the option to add additional produce to their shares as they need to. OFN also enables CSAs to add to their range by selling produce from other local producers to their members.
• Food hubs for local food and drink producers to work together to sell produce direct to shoppers – sometimes using a school hall as a weekly food sorting point. Some of the producers selling through food hubs are very small scale – possibly people making jam in their spare time or with a few surplus apples in the autumn.
• Farmers’ markets with a click and collect service so that people can order in advance; maybe with a home delivery service built in; maybe with stall-holders taking pre-ordered boxes back to their farms as pick-up points for local shoppers.
• Mobile shops again with a click and collect service and drop off points so that food orders can be collected after the mobile shop has gone.
• Food co-ops buying bulk dry and fresh goods from wholesalers and then dividing the
produce between members at very affordable prices.
• Food banks to distribute surplus food from supermarkets.
OFN enables various distribution arrangements to be set up and managed; it deals with payments and manages customers’ accounts; it produces reports to help enterprises to organise the food distribution as easily as possible and has lots of features developed by people who have been running food enterprises for many years and know where the headaches can be!
To find out more here is a summary of our ethics and background or contact email@example.com.