By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Despite the pandemic, the Delridge Grocery Co-op has grown to reach another milestone – selling fresh food, regularly, to local residents.
Not as a full-fledged store, yet, but the DGC’s in-development store space is the operational base for what’s just emerged from five months of testing: Weekly sales of the “DGC Essentials Box,” 10 pounds of produce for $20.
Starting this week, the co-op is opening up orders for weekly pickup or delivery on Saturdays to the community at large – and even if you don’t need it, there’s a donation program too. We stopped by DGC HQ (5444 Delridge Way SW) this past Saturday as half a dozen safely spaced volunteers assembled the boxes for distribution.
First, some backstory if you’re new: The co-op has been a decade-plus project to help ease Delridge’s plight as a “food desert.” Volunteers have slowly but steadily worked toward the goal of opening a store. Last November, we covered the ceremony launching work in the space that has been set aside for DCG since Cottage Grove Commons opened seven years ago. While the store planning and development continued, co-op leaders decided to start building relationships with both producers and customers by assembling and selling the weekly food boxes.
What’s in them? As explained in the DGC announcement of its out-of-beta milestone: “Each week’s contents are a little different, but boxes mix “Essentials” like apples, carrots, bananas, and potatoes with surprises like fennel, leeks, pluots, and Romano beans. We focus on organic produce from area produce distributors.” (For example, they’re working a lot with Pacific Coast Fruit.)
Volunteers of all ages have been helping pack the boxes, as we saw during our visit.
The volunteer operation is running smoothly after the months-long test, says volunteer coordinator Agen Schmitz:
He and operations manager Lara Anderson were there Saturday to ensure everything was humming along:
They can use more volunteers, too – both for produce-box assembly and for the ongoing work toward opening the store – email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
But back to the boxes! DGC is also broadening what they offer; starting this coming Saturday, they’re branching out beyond produce, too, offering add-on options. That might eventually mean grains or beans or other staples; this week, the add-on is Mama’s Everything Sauce from Kent-based Naija Buka.
To get a DGC Essentials Box, you can either place a one-time order or subscribe. And for $5 extra, they’ll deliver! You also can donate the cost of a full or half box to make it available to someone in need.
The DGC has always intended to sell food affordably. They’re covering expenses now with the box sales, which are open to everyone, members or non-members, so they’re keeping the box price at $20 – you can order one by going here – deadline for each Saturday is the preceding Wednesday (and if you subscribe, you’ll only have to order once). Take note that DGC is the first Delridge business to accept Fresh Bucks vouchers.
And there are other ways to support the DGC toward getting the store open. Here are two, from the DGC announcement:
Become a Delridge Grocery Co-op owner. A full household ownership share costs $100, but you can pay in installments starting at $5. Ownership gives you a voice in making Co-op decisions and you’re investing in your West Seattle community. And don’t forget to encourage others to join you! Visit delridgegrocery.coop for more information.
Donations of Equipment. We were recently given some refrigeration units from the fine folks at Cafe Osita on 35th, who wanted to ensure some older equipment they were getting rid of found a good home. If you have commercial equipment that you’d like to donate, please contact us at email@example.com.
By the way, if you’re buying a box, check the DGC website on Fridays to see what’s in it, and get recipe ideas – here’s what they wrote about this past Saturday’s box. But for the DGC, the most important thing is what you put into it – your support of more fresh food available to the community.