ReStore (restore.org.in) is perhaps the best known organic food shop in chennai. It is run by an amazing bunch of volunteers with deep commitment to the organic farming movement. They have identified and come up with two significant problems in organic food marketing in urban India.
- How do you supply a basket of products to an urban kitchen through the year when these produce arrive at your shop only during specific agricultural seasons
- How do you do that consistently through the years with shifting farmer base, changing consumer behaviour and ever present operational problems of staff, infrastructure, transportation cost going up and other issues
The scale of operation has to be significant for any organic food shop to break even in a urban centre as the overhead costs are high.
ReStore by adopting a part volunteer network to manage the shop has tried to address the issues above in its own. They have no knowledge of how it is managed in the day to day basis, but, the fact is a volunteer driven initiative has managed for five years shows either they have managed to have a consistent supply of sincere volunteers or a dedicated number of them who have consistently worked for several years.
Chennai, particularly, South Chennai also is perhaps the knowledge heavy region of the world with more knowledge per square inch of a consumer than most parts of India and more cynical consumers than any other square kilometer can fetch in India. To cater to them and sustain their faith is an achievement in itself, to not lose hope and sustain the energy is a double accomplishment.
Ananthoo, Radhika, Sangeetha, Biju and others have been a witness to the evolution of the small shop that operates out of a garage in one of the back streets off adayar main road. It has consistently become the place for activists to hang out and small informal meetings of safe food alliance.
Greetings to these amazing heroes and their consistent efforts, they sustain faith in small human endeavour making a mark in the larger society! God bless them and lots of love and strength to you all!
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