Set up a Hub

Running your own Hub can be very rewarding (in more ways than one), and takes very little effort. A Hub can be set up almost anywhere, so long as you have some covered space with trolley access. The packing takes about an hour a week, and you'll receive most or all your fruit and vegies for free (on top of a 20% discount on all other products).

Where can you set up a Hub?

Hubs can be set up almost everywhere because they don't require much space and don't create any mess:

  • Residential Hub: anyone with a carport, garage, veranda or other covered space of about 2m by 3m (or 7ft by 10ft in the old measure)
  • Community Hub: church, community centres and community gardens
  • Workplace Hub: packing can be done in a canteen or any unused room with reasonable trolley access

What does it take?

The Hubster's job is pretty straightforward:

  1. You pack each member's bag according to the packing list we provide
  2. During the packing process, we expect you to apply some basic Quality Control (i.e. leave out anything you wouldn't want to receive in your bag)
  3. You also need to tell us anything that was missing from the orders so we can either schedule a raincheck or a credit.

Aside from packing space and time, it helps if you have the following characteristics:

  • Be social! You love talking with people (and telling them about Harvest Hub)
  • Care about sustainability and great tasting produce
  • A willingness to grow your Hub and maintain it. We can start your Hub with as few as 7 members, but the ideal size is 10-12.
  • Comfortable with online social media - Facebook, Twitter, PinInterest - foodie mums and dads, healthy cooking, sustainability, ethical food, school, community and nutrition
  • As a Hubster, you play your part in helping people take control of their food supply, and become less reliant on supermarkets. You also help create memories for families and especially kids when they collect their bag and can't wait to see what's inside the bag!

What do other Hubsters say about what they do?

We have over 80 Hubsters across Sydney, and they love what they do. Here are the stories of some of them...

Michelle in Wahroonga:

"I love Hubstering - it is easy to do, it fits in with my schedule and for only an hours "work" each week I supply my family with a fantastic bag of fresh produce (as well as getting 20% off all the tempting groceries. This reduces my grocery bill and the time I need to spend in Coles/Woolies/Aldi. Win win."

 

Alia in South Turramurra:

"I pack between 6 and 7.15am, Alia explains. It's great because it fits so easily into my family routine and even though it is early I really enjoy the peace and quiet while I'm packing. I get to watch my street come to life. I first joined Harvest Hub nearly three and a half years ago, and I've been a Hubster for two years. The reduction in our grocery bill made a big difference to our family. Harvest Hub is definitely one of the things that has meant I could stay at home with my kids for longer." (Read more)

 

Trish in Beacon Hill:

"I love the fresh fruit and vegetables arriving every Tuesday and enjoy packaging them up for my hub. I especially think the quality is superior and lasts longer. I am 100% for eating everything in season and supporting local growers. I enjoy welcoming new members into our local hub. I know that my family benefits as we eat more fruit and vegetables than ever before and love the fact that nothing is wasted in our house!"

 

Rachel in Turramurra:

"I love just about everything about Harvest Hub: packing the bags for my Hub gives me quiet time; I love having a chat with my hub members when they collect their bag; the produce is amazing: real flavour, freshness, the stuff lasts; the new products they come up with; the team are lovely, from the drivers who deliver the crates, to the people who run it or deal with any issues or questions that pop up. Harvest Hub is even better than sliced bread, if you asked me!"

Hubster Q & A

Here is a Q&A for aspiring Hubsters. If you have any questions that are not covered, please call us on 1300 799 185.

Q: How do I become a Hubster?

A: Easy, just follow this link and complete the form. Make sure you tick the Hubster box. We will then call you to discuss potential delivery days and pick-up times. We will also put your Hub location on the map, and provide you with support materials.

You are now registered as Hubster for your neighbourhood, and other people in your area may join your Hub as members. (Please note: we do not publish your actual address, and the point on the map is only an approximation). Once your Hub has 7 members, we will call you to discuss a start date. With the first delivery, we will bring trestle tables (light-weight foldable tables to put the cooler bags on), bags, etc - as well as an experienced Hubster to help you pack the first time around. Whilst it isn't rocket science, there are a number of helpful hints & tips that will help make the packing quick and easy.

Q: How long does the packing take?

A: After you've done it a few times, the average Hub should take 40 - 60 minutes, plus another 10 minutes or so to pack any custom items. An average Hub means 10-12 bags, and the variance in packing time is largely determined by how many items need bagging. For example, mushrooms, beans and snow peas need to be packed in paper or plastic bags and if there are 1-2 of these items in a week, the packing time will be closer to 60 minutes.

Q: What else do I need as Hubster?

A: In addition to some of your time, you will need:

  • A covered space for packing - e.g. a carport, garage or veranda
  • Ideally you have internet access so you can download the packing list the day before. Regardless, we will provide a hardcopy list when we deliver the produce.
  • Be mindful of general hygiene: we'll ask you to wear disposable gloves (supplied by us) during packing, and keep the fruit & veg away from sun, rain, dirt and pets
  • Also, on a hot day you will need to pack the bags as soon as possible (start no later than 30 minutes after delivery) to prevent the produce from wilting, unless we can leave the crates in a cool spot
  • Lastly, you are our last point of quality control. We hand-pack all produce into plastic crates and our packers are trained to leave out any bruised or damaged produce - but if you come across any produce that you would not want to receive yourself, please leave it out.

Q: What is the reward for my time?

A: You will receive a discount on any fruit & vegetables purchased - either as Value Bag or as Custom Order - which depends on the number of bags packed that week. The discount is currently $4 per bag, and this reviewed every so often. For example, if you pack 10 bags this week, you will receive a $40 discount off your fruit & veg - the equivalent of a Large Bag. In addition, you will receive 20% discount on all other products purchased.

Please note that the discount for packing the bags must be used in that week and cannot be carried forward. For example, if you pack 10 bags for a $40 discount, but you only purchase $35 worth of fruit & veg, you cannot use the remaining $5 in the following week, nor can it be used for any other products. If on the other hand you purchase more fruit & veg than the discount is worth, you can simply pay the difference.

Q: Can I start a Hub in my apartment block?

A: Yes, but they must be run from a ground level area - garage, laundry, car park - as we do not deliver upstairs or via elevators. We recommend asking the strata managers for permission - or at least inform them. Most strata by-laws prohibit the running of a business from a flat or garage, so it's important to stress that it's just a fruit coop. It doesn't create a mess, it's not a business - but you will have your friends and neighbours drop in to collect their bags. Let us know if you'd like us to send you a template.

Q: Can I start a Hub at my workplace?

A: Absolutely! If you have permission from HR or management, and a space for packing - with reasonable trolley access to deliver the crates - a Workplace Hub can be very effective. If a canteen is not available, some space may be available in an undercover car park. What's more convenient than being able to take your groceries home straight after work?

Q: Do I need to do any heavy lifting?

A: You will need to be able to lift a 15Kg crate off the ground and put it onto the trestle table for ease of distribution. That's about as heavy as a 2-year old toddler. If you prefer, you can leave the crate on the ground, or stack them on top of a few other crates so you don't have to bend too much.

Q: Do I need to handle money?

A: No. All ordering and payment is online.

Q: Do I need to recruit new members?

A: Every Hubster is responsible for maintaining the minimum numbers. We'll provide support in the form of postcards, email templates and Facebook content - but you will need to make some effort to build and maintain Hub numbers. The minimum to start a Hub is 7 members - but to make the Hub viable, you need to average 10 or more. There is no upper limit, but when you get to 15, you may want to get a second Hubster.

Q: What if I go on holiday or I am not available in a particular week?

A: No problem, provided you have a back-up. We encourage Hubsters to identify a back-up Hubster as soon as possible. The Back-up can be someone else in the Hub, or a friend or neighbour. Ideally they do the packing at your place so they don't need to move trestle tables and notify members that there is a change in pick-up address. Get the back-up Hubster to pack with you during the prior week by way of on-the-job training. If a back-up is not available, you need to give us at least a week's notice so we can organise a Relief Hubster. In the case of an emergency, we realise that this may not be possible - but even at short notice, we can usually improvise someone to pack in your place. As a last resort, we can pre-pack the orders at our warehouse.

Q: What do I do if someone forgets to collect their bag?

A: Any member who hasn't collected their bag after the pick-up window, and hasn't contacted the Hubster to make alternative arrangements, can be contacted via the Hubster login page on our website. If the member fails to contact the Hubster after 12 hours, you may donate the contents to charity (see below). The member will be charged two-thirds of the cost - but at least they know that the fruit & veg found their way to a good home.

Q: How can I organise charity bags?

A: There are many ways in which Hubs can help those in need of some extra support:

  • Hub members can donate unwanted food into a charity box placed near the bags on collection day and donated.
  • Hub members may elect to add $1 (or more) to their weekly order. Harvest Hub will match each donation dollar-for-dollar. The proceeds could be used to buy a regular bag which can be donated
  • Bags which remain uncollected 12 hours after the pick-up window, and the member could not be contacted for alternative pick-up arrangements, can be donated to charity. (Please donate only the contents - not the cooler bag itself).

There are a number of potential recipients of the charity bags:

  • A local family in need because of unemployment, sickness or other unexpected circumstances
  • Various local charities, usually contacted via local community centres or churches. A list with contact numbers is provided on the Hubster page - and they include Meals on Wheels, Exodus, Salvation Army, etc. Some charities will collect the produce, whilst others require a drop-off. This can be organised within the Hub.

Importantly, any charity work should be treated as a shared responsibility by the Hub members and not left to the Hubster alone

Q: What do you do with the fruit & veg crates and plastic bags?

A: Either that same day (or the following day), we collect the crates - including all cardboard and plastic inserts used for packing. This is either re-used or recycled.

Q: Do I need insurance?

A: We recommend you check your Home Insurance: most policies have 3rd party indemnity cover, which will cover hub members as well. Whilst the risk may be small, technically you can be held liable for ANY 3rd parties (including friends and family) who get injured on your property.

Q: What notice do I need to give if I want to quit being a Hubster?

A: We are asking for 2 weeks' notice to give us enough time to find a replacement Hubster. If you've already found a replacement Hubster yourself, try & get the new Hubster to pack with you at least once by way of training.

Q: Can I stay a member after I finish Hubstering?

A: Of course!

Harvest Hub: great food that doesn't cost the earth