Getting your goods
JoiningQ) Are you available outside Cape Town?
A) Yes. We deliver a selection of dry goods by all over the country via the post office. Fresh and dairy products, and a wider selection of dry goods, are only available in Cape Town.
Q) Which region should I choose?
A) A full list of suburbs for each region is listed here.
OrderingQ) I've lost my password. What do I do?
A) At the top of the page, in the login area, enter your email, and then click on 'I forgot my password'. Your password reminder will be emailed to you, as well as a temporary reset code, in case your reminder doesn't ring any bells. If for some reason your email doesn't arrive (see why aren't I receiving emails from you?), or you've forgotten your email address, please use the contact page to send us a query.
Q) Why does your website take so long to open?
A) To make the ordering process simpler, we load all our products on one, big, page. This will take a while to load, especially if you're using dial-up to connect to the internet. Also, it will appear to load more slowly if you're using an older browser such as Internet Explorer 6 or 7. More modern browsers, such as Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer 8 will load and render the page more quickly.
Also, if you have an old PC with not much memory, or have lots of other applications open, things will generally slow down.
Q) I'm impressed. How do you keep things so affordable?
A) We're a co-operative, so our aim is not to generate vast profits for shareholders. We've had almost no funding, and our overheads are low. Our markups are consequently quite low, and we quite often are better value than the supermarkets.
Q) I'm outraged! Why are your prices so expensive?
A) South Africa has very few organic farms, and demand exceeds supply. Unfortunately, we have to import quite a few products, which are often expensive. You may find, for example, that our organic tomato sauce costs more than double an ordinary supermarket brand. Until we can source a sauce (sorry, it was too good an opportunity to miss) from a local supplier, there's not much we can do about it. We do try and offer affordable, local produce as well, so look out for those goods.
Q) Why is the site closed? Surely you're online, and should be available 24/7?
A) Our supply is quite variable and seasonal, and often we don't have enough to supply everyone. We use the period when the site is closed, from Tuesday afternoon, to gather information about what's available, and how much, and load the site. This minimises the chances of you not getting what you order.
Q) I can't order as I'm supposedly in arrears. I'm not! How can I place my order?
A) Sorry, we do make mistakes. Sometimes payments are missed, and sometimes payments are made without a useful reference. Please contact us, and we'll do our best to sort out the problem.
Q) I can't order, as I'm told I'm browsing the site as a guest user. How do I order?
A) You'll need to join (if you haven't already done so) and then log in at the top of the page using your email and password.
Q) How do I change my order?
A) You can change a local order up until the site closes. Simply log in again (or go to the order page) and change the quantities as you wish. Once the site has closed, orders have been placed with our suppliers, and you cannot change your order. Standing orders can be changed at any time (though they won't affect this week's order if the site is already open), and couriered orders cannot be changed.
Q) How do I cancel an order?
A) You can cancel your local order up until the site closes. Once logged in, go to the 'Manage orders' page, and cancel your order. Standing orders can be cancelled at any time (though they don't affect this week's order if one has already been placed), while couriered orders cannot be cancelled.
Q) What's the difference between organic and biodynamic?
A) Biodynamic is a term that predates organic, and applies to farms that adhere to the anthroposophical principles of Rudolph Steiner. Biodynamic farms share principles with organic farms in that they do not permit chemical or GM additives, but go further in taking into account factors such as the influence of the moon and planets.
Q) What does 'non-certified organic' mean?
A) Non-certified organic means that the product is grown or made according to organic standards, but is not certified organic. Certifying costs money and has strict auditing requirements, making it unfeasible for small farmers and suppliers. All of our fresh suppliers have signed agreements with us committing to farming organically (documents are available on request), and we are open about their details, so they can be identified and visited. Our dry suppliers who aren't certified usually use certified organic ingredients, or non-certified ingredients from ourselves.
Getting your goodsQ) It's late! Where are my goods?
A) Hopefully they're on their way! We can't guarantee a delivery times though due to the vagaries of suppliers, variations in orders, and so on, so delivery times may vary from week to week. Sometimes we mess things up though, and sometimes people think they placed an order when they actually didn't (usually by forgetting to click 'confirm'), so please contact us if you're unsure.
Q) When do deliveries arrive?
A) Look here for specific details for each region. We usually deliver on a Thursday between 9am and 5pm. If you're not going be there all day, please leave details instructions for where we should leave the order when we arrive. You can do this on the comments box when placing the order, or by contacting us directly. We cannot unfortunately come back at a later time, or another day.
Q) When and where can I collect my goods?
A) Please see the about us page for more details. Note that your collection point is determined by your region. If you change region after placing an order, your collection point will not automatically be switched, and you'll need to let us know.
Q) Why's there so much (or anything!) missing from my order?
A) We make mistakes in packing. Suppliers don't deliver everything we ordered. Don't worry, you'll be credited for anything that wasn't delivered, and can pay less for your next order. If something is not clearly marked as missing on your delivery note, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can credit you.
Q) My lettuce is limp, my pears are pockmarked, and my beetroots are bashed. I thought organic was supposed to be better quality! What happened?
A) Sometimes farmers, or us, leave things out in the sun too long, and they're just not acceptable. If that's the case, please let us know, and we'll credit you for the goods. However, organic goods sometimes don't look as 'perfect' as their chemically-grown counterparts. Pesticides are applied to kill the harmless bugs that leave markings on the fruit or vegetables. Don't be misled - if it looks too good to be true, it's probably poison!
MoneyQ) How do I pay?
A) By bank transfer. Our bank details are here. Please be sure to reference your payment with your full name (that you joined with) so that we don't misassign it. Unfortunately we don't yet take credit cards.
If you're going to be ordering regularly, why don't you save yourself the trouble, and bank charges, and pay for the month upfront? Our suppliers would also appreciate the early payment we'd be able to make!
Q) Why does no-one answer the phone?
A) We're small, have no funding, and don't employ a receptionist. We're online often though, so if you email us we'll get back to you shortly.
Q) What are Talents?
A) Talents are a local community currency. In order to start trading in Talents, you'll need to register with the Community Exchange System. Currently, you can return certain the 1 litre Camphill glass jars for T4, the small glass Camphill and Bloublommetjies honey jars for T0.5. Talents can be spent by anyone accepting them - see the CES website for more details.
Q) Why is my balance wrong?
A) It's quite possible we made a mistake. Please contact us if this is the case. But it's also possible we haven't yet captured your payment yet. There's normally a few days delay in both. If it's more than three days after you made your payment, please let us know and we'll correct your balance.
GeneralQ) Why are you 'Ethical'?
A) We don't claim to be better than anyone. And we're certainly not perfect. We've been called the Unethical Co-op more times than we care to know after getting something wrong. But we'd rather aim high and fall short than not try at all. We strive to improve and make a positive contribution in everything we do. So our name comes our vision of our contribution, what we'd like to offer, and how we'd like to go about our existence.
We support small and local farmers over larger, more remote farmers. We prefer local, or African, over international suppliers. We use as little packaging as possible, and use compostable packets instead of oil-based plastic bags for all our own branded goods, and work with suppliers to get them to do the same. We look to offer the most ethical products we can find, in all senses. Where the products do only good, and the workers are fairly-treated. And finally, we're a co-operative in structure, so we're not working to make shareholders wealthy, or feeling pressured by those who may not share our vision. Our reward is the greater good for all.
Q) Why aren't all your products certified organic?
A) We offer produce that's organic in spirit rather than just organic in letter. Very often small farmers cannot afford to become certified, both in financial cost and auditing requirements. Very often too, they grow to a higher organic standard. We choose to support them. Sometimes organic products aren't available, and we choose to offer the best alternative. At all times we offer you complete transparency. You can see what the organic status is, the certification details if applicable, and where the produce comes from.
Q) Why aren't I receiving emails from you?
A) Check your junk mail filter. Also, some ISP's are a bit overzealous with their spam control, and block certain mails from us, thinking that they're spam. Sorry, this is out of our hands! If you know we're sending mails, but they're not in your junk mail folder, ask your ISP to make sure they get through
Q) How can I get involved?
A) Contact us, and let's chat.
Q) Is your product list available as a spreadsheet?
A) Yes it is. You can view it (including fresh produce available in Cape Town only) here
If you have any further queries, please contact us.