Food co-ops and CSAs

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and consumers where the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared.

Consumers are often members, who are closely linked to the farm and production of their food. Customer-business involvement can be through ownership or investment in the farm or business, sharing the costs of production, accepting a share in the harvest or providing labour.

Community Supported Agriculture helps to address increasing concerns about the lack of transparency, sustainability and resilience of our food system. It is one of the most radical ways that we can retake control and ownership of our food system.

Adapted from What is a CSA?

Sims Hill Shared Harvest

Sims Hill, a Bristol-based CSA operates like an organic veg box scheme, but is run as a member-owned co-operative. Members pay full shares (54.20/month) or half shares (£31.10/month) to invest in the running of the farms, based in Frenchay.

In return for investment in the farm, members receive a share of the harvest in the form of weekly vegetable deliveries to a local pick up point (St Werburgh’s, Easton, Bishopston, Fishponds, Windmill Hill, Frenchay and St George).

There is also the option to receive veg boxes in return for a workshare, where members work 4 hours each week instead of paying for shares monthly. Check here for availability:

Sims Hil members  get a say in what they grow and help make decisions about the priorities of the project, members are encouraged to attend meetings held 5 times a year to have their say.

There are also volunteer days for members and non-members every third Sunday of the month, arranged by contacting Sims Hill directly. For more information email

The Community Farm

The Community Farm is a CSA based in Chew Valley just outside of Bristol, owned and governed by 500 shareholder members who invest in the operation and running of the farm.

Working with a network of organic producers and local farmers, The Community Farm supplies organic veg boxes delivered to Bath, Bristol, the Chew Valley, Weston-Super-Mare and Frome.

Profits are reinvested back into managing the farm and supporting community programmes, including funding volunteering sessions, wellbeing courses and events.

Buying groups and food co-ops

What is a buying group?

Buying groups are made up of a handful of people or a local community, who collectively source food in bulk from local suppliers including fruit and veg, dried goods, meat and dairy.

Buying groups have at least an informal agreement about how things are organised, or a more formal legal structure such as a co-operative.

Setting up a buying group and buying in bulk from suppliers can reduce costs, cut food miles and lessen wasteful packaging and processing

Food Co-operatives and buying groups offer an alternative to purchasing from supermarkets, the benefits of this include; better value due to sourcing in bulk, increased control of where your food comes from, supporting ethical food production, and sourcing produce suitable for dietary requirements that may not be easily available nearby.

Distilled from Setting up an organic buying group and Set up a community buying group.

Food For All

Food for All is a food cooperative based in BS13, the group source their products in bulk, meaning they can offer good quality, healthy food at competitive prices.

The shop is open to everyone, but membership to Food for All is only available to people who live, work, study or volunteer in the BS13 area including Hartcliffe, WIthywood and some surrounding areas.

Members get a 10% discount in the Food for All shop, and a management committee is selected by members each year to make decisions on the running of the organisation.

Food for All is a not-for-profit organisation run by local volunteers and staff. The food available in the shop is sourced from a range of local suppliers such as wholefoods from Essential Trading, fruit and veg from Community Market Gardens (GREENS) and organic cheese, free range meat and eggs from Alvis Brothers

As well as providing their community with fresh, healthy food at a good price, Food for All also offers local people a range of activities, advice and information focussed on the importance of healthy eating and locally produced food.

Essential Trading Co-operative 

Essential Trading, established as a  trading co-operative in 1991, is owned and operated by its members. Essential has become one of the largest worker co-operatives in the UK and is a true pioneer in the manufacturing and distribution of vegetarian, vegan, organic, sustainable and “free-from” produce.

Alongside supporting independent local businesses, Essential also encourages and supports the set up and running of buying groups.

To open an account with Essential, a buying group must have:

  • A minimum of four households.
  • A single delivery address between the members of the group that has good access.
  • A single point of contact.
  • A single payment system for orders.