Not exactly. The OFN itself is a website which provides an online directory and ecommerce software to food enterprises. All of the shops on the OFN are independently owned and operated and offer unique products and services to customers. While, some shops might offer mixed fruit and vegetable box deliveries, others might take custom orders, or ask that you collect your purchase from their farm, or market. To find details of how a specific shop operates and what products/services they offer, check out their profile.
Some shops operate their ordering and delivery in ‘order cycles’, as opposed to shops which are perpetually open and process orders on a one-by-one basis. Order cycles are a way for enterprises to process orders in bulk, which makes their business more efficient, so they can pass on savings to you (think how inefficient it would be for a farmer to harvest a lettuce each time an order is placed).
An order cycle starts with a period of time when the shop is open and accepts orders. Then it will close, and the shop will process (harvest, pack and deliver) all of the orders that were placed. This process will then repeat itself. A full order cycle might take 2 weeks (e.g. the shop is open for 10 days, and then orders are harvested, packed and delivered in 4 days). For customers, this can mean that you will place your order a few days to a week before your order is delivered. Once you get used to ordering in advance like this, and planning your shopping ahead, the system works well, and brings you the freshest goodies!
If you see that a shop is closed, just return back when their next order cycle is open to start shopping with them.
All online shops on the ONF are independently operated and offer different shipping methods. Some shops offer more conventional shipping methods like home delivery, or postage. Others will have more creative ways for getting the food from the farmer to plate, such as collection from a central location (like a school, farmer’s market or workplace), collection from a neighbourhood grocer or butcher or distribution through a buying group (group of customers).
All online shops on the OFN are independently operated and have different payment methods available. Visit a shop to see what options are offered. Most shops with use a mixture of Paypal, EFTPOS, Pin Payments, banks transfer or cash on delivery.
Traditional grocery supply chains are shrouded in mystery, making it difficult for customers to know where their food is coming from, how it has been produced, and where their grocery dollar will end up. Transparency is central to the OFN, because we believe that visible supply chains are healthier than those which are hidden. On the OFN, customers can always see where their food has come from and what proportion of the price goes to the farmer.
In an online shop, the pricing pie chart will show you how the price is allocated between the producer and other players like the hub or retailer. You can also see the product properties (such as certified organic, free range etc) to know more about how the food was produced.
The OFN makes producers visible again, giving them recognition and a fair price, for their hard work. A food system with more direct trading between farmers and local community enterprises (instead of multinational corporations) keeps food dollars in the community’s hands and builds ties and understanding. Shopping local also brings benefits to the environment through lower food miles and more seasonal consumption.
The OFN is not for profit and committed to building a better and fairer food system. Some online stores still source through conventional supply chains which are shrouded in mystery, but on the OFN you can always see where your food has come from. The OFN is also contributing to something bigger. The code for the OFN software is free for others to use, so is contributing improving food systems all over the world.
The OFN hosts a diversity of different shops, offering different products and services. Check out the product ranges and shipping options of enterprises in your area- you’re bound to find one which fits with your budget, preferences and routine!
Many of us who have grown used to shopping in supermarkets can find shopping at local markets, or shopping online a bit of an adjustment. But once you get into the swing of it and start enjoying all of the other benefits of buying through alternative, local food enterprises, you’ll soon find you don’t miss the weekly trip to the supermarket.
The OFN strives to make good food accessible and affordable to all. By shortening supply chains and bringing transparency back to the table, customers can see where their food is coming from and know they’re getting value for money.
A buying group is a collective of customers, who place a bulk order through a shop, then receive and distribute the order amongst members. This might take place in someone’s back shed, or local community space. Buying groups are often not for profit and run by members. By ordering in bulk, and taking on the task of packing and distributing individual orders, members of a buying group can access great produce at lower prices. Joining or starting a buying group with your neighbours or community group can be a great way to access affordable produce and also build sense of community.
If a shop delivers to a buying group, ask them about how you can join. Or if you want to start a new buying group, get in touch with a shop to see if it can be accommodated, and talk with your community to get others involved.
The OFN shops are wonderfully diverse, which means that you’re sure to find one which suits your needs. You can use the OFN map feature on your local OFN site to find enterprises located near to you. Then, check out the profiles of shops to see if the product range and the payment and shipping methods meet your needs. Each shop has links to the profiles of supplying producers, so you can learn about where the food is coming from, and how it was produced. If production characteristics such as organic certification, or free range is important to you, you can choose see which products and shops meet these standards. The OFN is transparent in pricing as well, so you can see how your food dollar is distributed.
You can view your past orders by logging in at the homepage, clicking the cog in the top right hand corner and selecting Account. Here you will see a summary of your orders at each shop and be able to view details of each unique order.