Picture by biorekk.org
Biorekk was founded in 2004 by members of an informal buying group and has since become a not-for-profit organisation. It now has around 500 members.
Key suppliers Biorekk works with two organic producer co-operatives:
- El Tamiso based in Padua which supplies fruit and vegetables and processed fruit/veg products;
- La Terra et il Cielo based in Piticchio di Arcevia, Marche and supplies pasta, dried beans, grains, flour and olive oil.
Food purchasing – fruit and vegetables Biorekk operates a weekly organic vegetable box scheme delivered to 250-300 households via 50-80 drop-off points, all sourced from the El Tamiso cooperative which also packs the boxes. Biorekk organises the distribution. Total purchases in 2010 from El Tamiso were €178,000. El Tamiso also employs a member of Biorekk to coordinate the distribution of boxes (this avoids unnecessary paperwork for El Tamiso). There are five box types and members order online; all members pay a €5 deposit for their recyclable plastic box. Biorekk works closely with El Tamiso to encourage greater production and use of local products, for example this winter (2011), boxes included a wide range of winter broccoli and radicchio grown exclusively for GAS customers.
Fair trade and other purchases In addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, Biorekk also organises monthly distribution to its membership of fair trade products from a car park outside a friendly local organic retailer (who in turn benefits from boosted trade). Products include oil, cheese, bread, tofu, pasta, wine, ecological nappies and occasionally ice cream. All products are sourced from local or ethical producers. For example their olive oil is sourced from a social co-operative in Sicily, which was established on the land confiscated from a Mafia boss.
Social & educational activities There are a number of farm visits and workdays organised for Biorekk members to encourage closer co-operation between the group and El Tamiso producers. Biorekk operates an all day crèche called ‘Paperifurbi’ (Crafty Ducks) for children from six to 36 months. Organic ingredients are used for meals and refreshments and crèche activities also include gardening. After school educational and play activities are also organised for children of school age (which in Italy is normally after the age of three at ‘Maternal Schools’). From September 2011 Biorekk will be establishing a new co-operative in Padua which will run the box scheme and a bar/restaurant. One of the principal objectives of the new co-operative is to rationalise their box scheme by reducing the number of drop-off points for the boxes.