Break Room

The Co-Op can be started on a shoestring budget.  Initially I started with the idea of a farm only along with a barely habitable structure.  When it was just a farm the idea of a break room cropped up to provide relief from the hot sun and shelter from sudden storms.  Ain't nobody gonna come help out all day without taking a break, having a lunch, grabbing a cold drink.  The break room is a means of offering dignity to the people doing the work.  We are not operating a sweatshop.  These people are not commodities and will not be treated as such.  

The requirements are simple:
Fridge and microwave to store food and heat it up.  
A clean table and chairs.  Cleaning supplies available for those occasions when someone left or made a mess.  
A clean, stocked bathroom with hand wash sink.

It's a pretty good bet all the furnishings and appliances are sitting around unused in someones shed.  A bout of scavenging can put this together in a day.  Zoning, land use ordinances, and health department requirements may demand the farm operation be separated from the kitchen/store.  If this be the case, each location will need a break room.  

Upgrades are a treat, but not critical.  Over at the farm, It's hot, sweaty and dirty.  A kitchen is hot, sweaty, greasy, and comes with the potential of big spills.  A shower is a handy option but poses sanitation issues.  Flip flops, sanitizing spray and a lock on the door are in order.  If a shower is not going to work, a mop closet with a garden hose will clean someone up.  Keeping a clean set of clothing might be something to consider.

A social area can be a fine addition to the break room.  A couple of comfortable chair, perhaps a couch.  This is a comfortable, casual setting which would allow people to do their thing.  Talk, socialize, have small meetings to think through a problem, be it company related or personal.  Don't eat on the couch.

This entire plan was started just to put together a farm.  It was the break room that opened the flood gates.  Set up a coffee pot, chip in to get some supplies, when you grab a cup, toss a quarter in a can so we can replace the supplies.  This became doughnuts followed rapidly by cold drinks, soda, and tea along with some snacks.  It's a short step to bringing in a gas grill and firing up some burgers and dogs on the occasional weekend.  If we are doing all of this and have the people, we'd want someone to keep an eye on the phone, serve as a cashier for the soda and snacks and handle the housekeeping.  Instead of buying snack cakes, it's a no brainer to bake some brownies.  

The plan started with a property to use as a farm, and that property needed a house for utility access and to use for office, meeting, and storage space.  A house would have a kitchen.  If we've got a dozen people working some weekend morning, putting together a lunch would be pretty easy, just take orders for sandwiches, chip in, run to the store for the ingredients.  Dinner is just as good-have a spaghetti feed.  It's cheap, tasty, and if we buy a bigger package, the price per pound drops.  This led to the buyers group: we chip in on stuff we already buy, get it at a better price and divvy it up.

If we get into it, we'll need some space to receive and separate orders.  Breaking open big sacks to portion into smaller packs demands a food handling area.  We've got the flour in the buyers group, a food license, and people...adding bread and baked goods would give us an income much faster than the farm, and we could sell goods to the public.  We've got all that produce on the farm...we could do all sorts of things with it.

Thinking small is not my way.  This line of thinking kept on going.  I wrote down these ideas, set them aside, picked them up later to think about it some more.  Everything I've put together in this plan came out of one head.  I can only imagine the sorts of ideas that would come out of a bunch of heads.

If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them.


Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline