• Liam Carroll

The Manly Food Co-op

Perched halfway between Manly Wharf and South Steyne Surf Club, forming the Google Maps apex of an isosceles triangle based with one corner in the Manly Village Public School handball courts, the other at the futuristic, vertical-timber-slat-adorned façade of Royal Far West rural kids’ charity, and a mere hop, skip and heels-together jump from one of Manly’s Coles twin sisters, you’ll find a treasure trove of fresh local produce, The Manly Food Co-operative.

Formed in 1997, the Manly Co-op is a not-for-profit, community-owned, organic-produce-stocked, plastic free, zero waste, grocery store. Quite a mouthful. When Keelah Lam, one of the original Manly Co-op founders, was piecing together the initial building blocks of the concept 24years ago, a community newsletter was instrumental in getting the store up and running. Long live print! Is there anything it can’t do? Of course not. Now with almost 2,500 members, and over 4,000 newsletter subscribers, The Manly Co-op is owned and operated by its community of members, and open to everyone.

Selling organic and package free products at the cheapest possible price - a task made easier thanks to the store being largely run by volunteers, always fantastic for the bottom line, who perform tasks like ordering stock, accounting, recycling, newsletter writing, taking out compost and laundry, liaising with the Tawny, anything and everything that’s needed. The Board of Directors are also all volunteers who work part-time to make the Co-op a viable business. Membership costs $5 per year and for that you receive a 10% discount on all purchases. Volunteers receive additional discounts.

Sourcing as many plastic free products as possible, Manly Co-op gives you the opportunity to buy in bulk, in whatever quantities suit best. They also source locally wherever possible and straight from the farmer’s barn, serving up scrumptious sourdough from Northern Beaches’ Staple and Berkelo bakeries, wild honey from Duffy’s Creek, IdleWilde Farm Eggs from the foot of Dingo Forest, organic macadamias from Waterfall Road’s Hand ‘N’ Hoe, and palate-enlightening blueberries from Oberon’s Highland Blues, all available plastic free.

It’s crucial to make this point clear, and something that’s in everyone’s best hip-pocket interests, you can load up on all manner of Manly Co-op’s fruit, veg, dairy and legumes, penne, tofu, grains ancient and new, beverages, tonics, teas and cashews, chocolates, sweets, yoghurts, and all natural shampoo, all this and much, much more, but still have plenty of shekels left in the organic canvas kitty when compared to dollars doled out when partaking in the supermarket duopoly system. Not bad. What’s more; the more people who shop at the Co-op, the cheaper the goods become. Spread the word and save, save, save!

It will always be attractive to our stifled inner hippy to knock off, ship out, and join a commune in Crescent Head, Woy Woy, Wagga Wagga or Timbuktu, but The Manly Food Co-operative allows us Northern Beaches faithful to still reside in the saltwater, beating heart of The Emerald City and enjoy access to farm fresh, plastic free goodness 7 days a week, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring. Pop in next time you’re waltzing down Manly's Wentworth Street and see for yourself.

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