The Ballarat Wholefoods Collective is continuing to change and expand to meet community demand for plastic-free shopping and fresh local produce.
The volunteer based not-for-profit group has expanded its opening hours and increased its offering of fresh products at its Barkly Square store.
Ballarat Wholefoods Collective founder Wendy Aston said members were shopping and purchasing more at the collective during the coronavirus pandemic.
People are more aware of where they are shopping, what they are getting and where it is coming from.Wendy Aston, Ballarat Wholefoods Collective
She said this was due to the expanded range of fresh vegetables and fruit, in addition to milk, cheese, bread and eggs, and many members feeling more at ease shopping at the collective compared to the supermarket.
"People are more aware of where they are shopping, what they are getting and where it is coming from," Ms Aston said.
Ms Aston said she was also hearing from newer, young members with families how fresh organic food was important to them and their children.
Ballarat Wholefoods Collective member Katherine Scott said she chose to shop at the collective with her two-year-old son Micah in an effort to reduce waste.
Members like Ms Scott bring their own jars to fill with the amount of produce they need.
"That is our main motivator, but we keep coming back because of the friendly community side of it. I think it is important to support these community initiatives," she said.
"Micah is becoming a pretty good little shopper. He is happily into things and picking things out. He loves the fresh produce and the fresh bread."
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Member Sophie Pritchard said she had enjoyed bringing her own containers to shop throughout the past two years and more recently loved fresh fruit and vegetables and milk.
"It is nice to buy from local producers and to know people are working together to make it happen," she said.
Jy Drowley joined as a member of the Ballarat Wholefoods Collective about one month ago and volunteered for his first shift in the store on Thursday.
He said he was interested in the volunteering aspect of the membership, in addition to the plastic free shopping and fresh produce.
"Everyone seems to know each other and we are all of the same outlook," Mr Drowley said.
"The farmer comes and you can see how fresh the produce is, I think everyone enjoys that. There are huge cabbages and leeks.
"I would encourage more people to make the effort to come because they will feel how much richer it is than going to the supermarket."
The Ballarat Whlolefoods Collective stocks products from Enbom Honey in Dunnstown, Manna Hill Estate at Mt Egerton, Inglenook Dairy in Dunnstown, Mushroom Connection and Basilio Sourdough in Ballarat.
Newer products include Kaokao Miso from Daylesford and fruit and vegetables from Block 454 in Evansford.
The range of products has grown from when the collective first opened seven years ago in Ms Aston's backyard.
The collective moved to the Brown Hill Cricket Club as membership numbers grew, where it stored produce ready to set up on shop day.
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The collective moved to its first permanent home at Barkly Square last year.
"We are always thinking about something," Ms Aston said.
"Our biggest thought at the moment and has been for a while, is fresh to get people in weekly.
"A lot of new younger and middle age range people have come in here more now. In the past it has been a lot of families. I think we are getting more singles now too."
The Ballarat Wholefoods Collective is open from 9am to 12pm on Thursday and Saturday at Barkly Square.
People interested in becoming a member are encouraged to visit during those times, when they can join up and shop on the same day.