Friday, August 29, 2008
Philly's Weaver's Way Co-op
Last Saturday, I took DD15 to a youth group meeting in Germantown, a neighborhood of urban Philadelphia. I have always wanted to visit the Weaver's Way co-op, so we left home early and made the stop.
Oh, dude. Now I want to live near it. It is on a corner, like any corner store. But it was packed on a Saturday afternoon. No room for carts - people put baskets and bins on a counter and bring their groceries to the bin until they are done shopping, then they move the bin up to the end of the counter to get in the check-out line.
There is a big series of bins with bread and goodies from bakeries all over the city. There is a meat counter, a deli case with lots of store-made goodness. A dairy case full of organic stuff. Loads of bagged bulk grain, beans, pasta, rice, and a wide assortment of organic canned and boxed products. Upstairs is the cosmetic and toiletry department (we didn't go) - and across the street is another room full of pet food and supplies.
The produce is all organic, and much of it comes from the co-op's own Farm, right in the city. When you buy a share in the co-op ($30/year), each adult family member agrees to work 6 hours a year in the store, at the farm, or doing some other service that supports the co-op.
I got some hummus and pita to take to the meeting, and a quart of Seven Star vanilla yogurt for me (mine!). I also bought bags of red lentils, French green lentils, garbanzos, bulgur, black beans, and yellow split peas - all organic. The green lentils were only a few cents more than the non-organic ones I can get close to home at a bulk shop. We paid a 10% visitor's surcharge since we were not members, but I was still happy to shop there.
People talked to me in the check out line! No one chats in the grocery check-out at home. Outside, they have recycling bins for members to bring stuff the city doesn't take. There are plants for home gardeners. A huge community notice board. There is a used book store next door, a massge place, a cafe. Weaver's has been here for 30 years, so they have had plenty of time to build a neighborhood nexus of eco-healthy-coolness.
There were houses for sale right up the street - but I am afraid to price them. I know we can't afford this neighborhood. Most of the houses have gardens - tomatoes in front yards!
DH grew up in this area, so I was also assigned to stop at Golden Crust Pizza on Germantown Ave and bring him a sausage and sweet pepper pizza. (Which he ate cold over two days.) He really misses living there. DD15 badly wants us to move back to the Philly area, where she has a bunch of friends. But we just can't afford the cost of living - rent, car insurance, food prices, gas prices, and local taxes are all higher. Even cable costs more.
I guess I will have to start something here in Reading. Maybe it could one day look like Weaver's. I am going to talk to some neighbors this weekend about starting a little carpooling and bulk food club. It won't be all crunchy and organic and green, but it will be a start.