Frequently Asked Questions
Shopping at Central City Co-Op
Where and when is Central City Co-op open?
We are located in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston at 2515 Waugh Drive (at Missouri Street), Houston, TX 77006 inside Kindred Church. We are open every Wednesday (excluding some holidays) from 9 AM to 6 PM. (We are available from 6-6:30 pm for share pickups only.)
I’m brand new. How do I shop with Central City Co-Op?
Welcome! You can jump right in and buy local, sustainable, and nationally-certified organic produce with us two ways:
Do I need a membership to shop with you?
Technically, you do not require a membership to purchase from us, but becoming a member will save you money and help us cover the costs of running the Co-Op. If you are not a member, you may purchase your first order for the same price our members pay Thereafter, all non-members will pay a surcharge of 15%. We need to do this to be able to be here for our community in the future! Please consider becoming an annual member to help us stay afloat-- memberships are prorated from a reasonable $60 each calendar year starting in June.
What’s a share?
A share is your portion of our produce purchase. Every week, Central City Co-op buys local and organic produce on behalf of members who have pre-ordered a share for that week.
How can I know what is in next week’s share?
For mixed fruit or vegetable shares:
All shares include a great variety of fresh produce that meets your typical weekly meal-planning needs. The shares mostly feature produce from the current growing season here in Texas. Since our buys aren’t finalized until Tuesday (because they're freshly picked!), we cannot know the contents at the time of preorder.
For Gundermann (all-local) share and Plant It Forward Farm Shares:
Both the Gundermann and Plant it Forward shares are like a birthday present: a surprise from the current growing season! Each share is packed on the Underman farm and the Plant it Forward Farms with whatever is freshest in the fields on Tuesday. (Yes, they're that fresh.) Because of this, it's not possible for us to know the share contents in advance. We try to provide a list of items by late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning that should be available at the Co-Op on Wednesday. Gundermann and Plant it Forward shares are a great way to stay in tune with the land, since you always get what's growing right now.
What if I don’t like something in my share?
Well... we encourage you to use your shares to discover new fruits and vegetables (or new ways to prepare familiar ones). If you truly dislike, or are allergic to, a particular item in your mixed share, then you may exchange it for another item of equal value from the open market. NOTE: Exchanges can only be made for vegetables and fruit (coffee, cheese, eggs and other items are excluded). Items from our Gundermann shares and our Plant it Forward Shares are not eligible for exchange. If you have any questions, please see a co-op volunteer for assistance.
Can I custom-order a share with only the things I like?
Sorry, due to logistics, we cannot offer custom shares. If you only wish to purchase specific items, you may shop our open market as an alternative.
How do I pickup my share? Can someone else go for me?
When you arrive for share pickup on Wednesday, either BYOB (bring your own bags) or take some of our spares to gather up your items, and check out (very briefly) with our cashier. If you're unable to pick up, but know someone who can, contact us to simply let us know that name of who will be picking up your share(s) on your behalf!
For pick up locations other than 2515 Waugh Dr., a refundable insulated bag deposit will be required. The insulated bags ensure freshness and keep pick up locations neat and tidy.
How does it work? Order online or in store. Simply pick up your produce from the pick up location. The next time you pick up an order, bring back your insulated bag and water bottle ice packs and take your next order.
If at any time you wish to discontinue picking up from a location, please let us know, return your bags and we will refund your deposit.
What is the open market?
It’s basically a farmers’ market without the farmers. Every week, Central City Co-Op buys extra produce from co-op-inspected local and nationally-certified suppliers, beyond what we need to fill shares. This extra produce goes into our open market area and is available for purchase by the general public. Open market stock is often limited, so get here early for the best selection. We also stock organic dry goods like beans, our own signature blend of locally-roasted coffee, local honey, free-range eggs, and a rotating selection of local cheeses. We also often feature handcrafted items like pottery or organic soaps from local artisans.
How is Central City Co-Op different from other co-ops?
Unlike most co-ops, we don’t force you to stick with a prefixed box of produce every week. With preorders, you are in charge and get to choose when you receive a share—and what size that share will be. Even beyond that, at pick up, you can trade out anything from our mixed shares for anything available in our open market. With us, you have the ultimate freedom to accommodate your own produce needs!
What is Central City Co-Op’s mission?
Our mission is to support sustainable agriculture by providing local, sustainable, and nationally-certified organic produce to the Houston community at an affordable price.
What does Central City Co-op do?
We support local farms and sustainable agriculture by giving our members an easy and economical way to buy a variety of local and organic produce each week. Unlike shopping at chain grocers, at Central City, you don't have to carefully read labels while shopping to ensure you're buy 100% local and/or sustainable produce, since we do all of that homework for you. Everything on our shelves and in our shares is either nationally-certified USDA organic or locally grown with sustainable farming practices by farmers we know. We also do a lot more behind the scenes--from education and outreach, to fostering a sense of community among our members. The best way to discover all that we do is to jump right in!
What is a co-op?
A cooperative is an association of people united to meet their common needs. Ours is similar to a buyers’ club-- our membership fees and preorders allow us to buy fruits and vegetables in bulk from multiple farmers and distributors every week. Then, we share it among a couple hundred of our friends (that's you, our wonderful member!).
Why should I buy organic?
In short, it's for both for your own health and that of the environment! It is generally accepted that eating foods without chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, or hormones can be a healthier (or less risky) choice for your body. Also, many of today’s industrial farming methods are very destructive to our planet. Buying organic is a great way to support farmers who raise their products sustainably--meaning without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, or any other unnatural processes that could have harmful or unproven long-term effects.
What's the difference between “sustainable” and “organic”? “Organic” means certified, usually by the USDA. “Sustainable” is very similar, just without the official government seal of approval. Approval for USDA certification takes a significant amount of time, money, and paperwork for a farm, and is often prohibitive for smaller farms. These uncertified farms still raise their crops using the same earth-friendly, sustainable methods as certified ones, but these smaller farms are often unable to sell their otherwise organic products to supermarkets. We support these smaller, local farmers by providing them with a market for their sustainably-raised crops without burdening them with the significant costs of national certification.
How local is “local”?
It's usually within 200 miles of our Houston home. Most of our current local providers are even closer-- within a one-hour drive of the city.
Why should I buy local?
Small farms need our help. Raising crops sustainably is labor-intensive and more expensive than conventional farming methods. We need to support local sustainable farms that are too small to afford the USDA organic certification process so that they can continue doing the right thing. Also, our environment is negatively impacted by the current standard scheme of food distribution, which involves cross-country or international shipping to national supermarket chains. Unfortunately, the larger the national food distribution systems get, the cheaper they become, and the more they thwart the survival of smaller, alternative suppliers. If food is going to stay local, it is up to us to support those who keep it there.
Can I volunteer with Central City Co-op?
Yes, please do! Volunteers are always needed on Wednesdays to help set up the open market in the mornings, to give tours and keep the market tidy during the day, and to break down in the evenings. Each two-hour shift earns you a $10 discount. Find more information at our Volunteer Headquarters page. Sign up for a shift today!
Who took the pictures featured on your website?
We appreciate Monica Kressman Photography for her wonderful images and for her loyal work as a volunteer.
Is Central City a 501c3? What is its "status"?
Central City Co-op is delighted to be a Texas Not-For-Profit Corporation serving our community. Due to our retail activities (selling veggies to you!), we do not qualify for IRS 501 c3 status. We still do significant work educating folks about wholesome foods and the importance of good environmental stewardship.
What are Central City's founders doing now?
Patricia Greer bustles around in her raw food kitchen, Pat Greer's Kitchen, making treats and delights. Jenn is raising kids (and Cain) and selling wild caught shrimp at a local farmers' market near you.