Invitation to all Food Assemblies


#1

Hello Food Assembly folks!

We are very sad to see the closure of Food Assembly UK. You’ve put in so much hard work over the years, creating communities, networks and friends. We hope to be able to help you continue and thrive!

We’ve written a blog here to outline why we feel it is so important to help you continue your invaluable contribution to a more inclusive food system.

Feel free to use this post to introduce yourselves. If there is enough interest we hope to run a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the funds so we can offer additional support to help with the transition to OFN. In order to make this work we’ll need your help to spread the word, so if you think this might be useful please let us know!

OFN is different in many ways to the Food Assembly. It is an open source platform cooperative built through contributions of a global network working toward food sovereignty. We’d love to welcome you to the network such that we can help realise our vision of a fair food system for everyone.

Looking forward to working with you!


#2

Hi I’m a host and producer on the food assembly.

I’ve just signed up as producer on here ATM whilst I assess what I want to do in the future as a host

Was a bit surprised to see your blog on the main website just at the time I got home to the email from FA HQ about the closure so a little uneasy about that going public before we had chance to speak to our producers and members.


#3

Hi Ruth,
Thanks for dropping us a line and thanks also for raising your concern. I know that Food Assembly told all your producers soon after you, but I believe letting your members know will be up to you.

OFN spoke with Food Assembly in the days leading up to their announcement, and together we agreed that they would suggest OFN could be an alternative for Food Assemblies. Thus we wanted to make sure that we had something on the website for when Food Assembly hosts followed the link in your FAQ doc to find OFN.

Given that we’ve never had a marketing budget we don’t exactly have enormous reach so it felt unlikely that Food Assembly customers would find out through us. We just wanted to be sure that when people did find out they had somewhere to go and knew that we were serious about this option being available.

Obviously you have tricky and potentially difficult conversations to have with your team, members and producers. But if you do decide to explore OFN we plan to do our best to be useful. Any questions let us know.

Good luck with your decisions! Hopefully speak soon.

Best wishes,
Lynne


#4

Hi.

I’m about to set up an OFN based market in response to the FA news. The Fa we have used for 3 years intends to close in July so our need is urgent. How can I get the ball rolling?

Rob


#5

Hi Rob,

Thanks for getting in touch. We know this is quite a turbulent time and transition and the OFN will do what we can to ensure as smooth a transition as we can.

There are a few places I can point you toward first. There is facebook group where @Lynne.OFN.Tech has been answering some key questions around FA and OFN, the differences, similarities and information on demos and how you can start getting setup. I’d recommend getting involved in those discussions as many similar assemblies will also be on there too

This is our setup manual. It runs through in good detail about how to get setup on the OFN.

Here’s a link through to the OFN Demo shop - https://openfoodnetwork.org.uk/ofn-uk-test-hub/shop - and we can look at walking you through how this was setup and how producers/customers etc will interact with it.

In terms of getting the ball rolling, theres a couple of things here. We can start getting your profile created now, this will give you a feel for how the system works on the backend and allow you to think about how the system can be used for your setup. To make things easier and save lots of work re-entering products which you’ll have done previously, we’re in discussions with the FA currently about getting data exports which we can import into our system, this is something currently with the FA and they’re actively working on.

We’d also be happy to look at arranging a time to have a chat through the setting up process with you or as a wider group too which I understand @Lynne.OFN.Tech has briefly discussed doing this with other FAs, perhaps we can start looking at getting those in the diary @Lynne.OFN.Tech & @Nick

Sinead - OFN Support


#6

I am sorry to be joining in late to this conversation. I have been away on holiday.

To help Food Assembly hosts to weigh up the suitability of OFN we are organising a series of free online workshops specifically for hosts of food assemblies. The first one will be next Tues 17th July at 10am.

I will show you around OFN, we can disucss how OFN can replicate your Assembly, you can set up a trial OFN shopfront if you like and I can register you as managers of the OFN demo hub.

Please click on this link to join the workshop. If you have not used Zoom before you might like to set it up a little before the workshop start time.

If this date and time is not good for you please let me know when would be good,

Looking forward to talking to you

Nick - OFN Communications


#7

Hi @TallRob I hope you can join the online workshop on Tuesday. If not we can arrange another time to help you get set up


#8

Following conversations with many Assembly Hosts over the last week or so we have been working out the details of how we would like to support Food Assemblies. So here is an invitation to Food Assemblies to join the process of building the Open Food Network

OFN UK is a collaboration of like-minded groups working to take back control of our local food systems. Together we share our learning and create tools that help us to do this. We share costs where appropriate. We share distribution and retail of food where appropriate. We share ideas and learnings. We treat our code and our knowledge as a commons, that we can use, build and share. We manage this commons together.

By doing this we are working to put the ownership of food distribution technology back into our hands. We aim to set fees collectively by exploring costs and ensuring they covered. We design features together. By using OFN you become a member of this platform cooperative.

In this way we are different to other service providers. We won’t promise the Earth if we can’t deliver. We work to be open and honest. In our current world this works against us. But the model is working. OFN is funded by organisations in France, the UK, Australia, Catalonia, the US, Canada and Norway. In Belgium we have made a partnership with Oxfam shops, such that their shops become food hubs. In France we are exploring a partnership with La Poste, such that food can be delivered on the national postal service. In the UK we work with 25 food hubs and over 800 producers that share our vision.

We know how expensive software is, not only to develop, but to maintain. We’ve been doing this for 5 years and have learned a lot about creating a globally viable business model. We don’t waste money on marketing. With all the features our user experiencecan get a little clunky, but we are constantly improving it. We have to prioritise development carefully to make the best use of our limited funds. This experience has made us wise. We do not promise things we can’t deliver. And we do not pretend to do things we can’t. We’ve seen other platforms like BuckyBox and Food Assembly UK come and go. And we keep learning and improving.

We invite Food Assemblies to join our collective. OFN cannot shut down without our members agreeing. OFN cannot change the fee structure without our members agreeing. New features are added to the OFN system under the control of its members. And you have the right to set your own fees in a way that suits your enterprise. So you have control to change margins for different products and producers as you see fit.

OFN will ensure:

  1. Payment functionality will support FAs. We will do this by connecting OFN with proprietary tools that will enable this functionality. We will discuss with FAs that join our community how they would like this to be managed. You have a number of options.
  2. That your product list is loaded into the platform. We can import the list from a file provided by FA.
  3. That we make significant improvements to the way OFN works on mobiles . This has become our highest priority for the international development team, and we will be making regular releases and improvements over the coming months.

OFN will ask in return:

  1. That you participate in the community, letting us know what is working and what is not working for you. We’d love you to share your thoughts and learnings.
  2. That to begin with you contribute 9% of sales to OFN. In exchange we will offer the additional support required to ensure your hubs are running smoothly including managing your payments to producers. After the transition we will bring the conversation to the wider community at a General Meeting to discuss the fee structure of the platform going forward.
  3. Other users of OFN currently pay around 2% of sales to the platform. This fee does not include payment gateway fees.

If you would like to discuss this more or have a screen-share session to see how OFN works please let us know. If you would prefer a phone call I am on 01453 840037