Set up a Hub
Running your own Hub can be very rewarding (in more ways than one), and takes very little effort. You need a covered space like a front room, verandah, carport, garage - covered space with trolley access for crates. Also tables to pack on (eg: fold tables you can get from your hardware store); a computer to communicate with members and post on facebook. The packing, by you, takes less than an hour a week. You receive most or all your fruit and vegies for free (and over 7 orders in a week 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 - Harvest Hub provide fold up tables, training on packing:
- 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:
- You pack each member's bag according to the packing list we provide
- 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)
- 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 - like Facebook - foodie mums and dads, healthy cooking, sustainability, ethical food, school, community and nutrition. You will be given a Harvest Hub facebook page to post on.
- 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:
Alia in South Turramurra:
Trish in Beacon Hill:
Rachel in Turramurra:
Hubster Q & A
Here is a Q&A for aspiring Hubsters.
Q: How do I become a Hubster?
A: Easy, just follow this link and complete the form. 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 will be 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. You will need to make time to go to an experienced Hubster to learn to pack. 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 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 and keep the packing space tidy and clean.
- 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.
- Post regularly on your Harvest hub Facebook page.
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. For example, if you pack 10 bags this week, you will receive a $40 discount off your fruit & veg. 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 letter.
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 flyers, 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 Pre-pack.
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. See Member Details. If the member fails to contact the Hubster then text us to let us know. We will arrange with your donation of the bag if they do reply to us. 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 after the pick-up window, and the member could not be contacted for alternative pick-up arrangements, we organize with the Hubster to donate the bag. (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 or later in the week), 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, let us know and try & get the new Hubster to pack with you at least once by way of training. Do not resign 2 weeks before, during school holidays.
Q: Can I stay a member after I finish Hubstering?
A: Of course!