Bio&Co – Social Enterprise producing organic vegetables and reducing waste trough compost
Tel./Fax +40 314 259 010
44°41’36.2″N 25°57’48.0″E, Ciocanari, Dambovita
WHEN: since 2015
WASTE MANAGEMENT HIERARCHY: preparing for reuse and recycling
TYPE OF INSTRUMENT: Education, information, awareness raising & Voluntary/promotional
WASTE STREAMS: Food and organic waste
About: Bio&Co farm (one of the projects initiated by “Ateliere Fara Frontiere” Association) is a social enterprise which produces organic vegetables and reduces waste and pollution, by collecting food and organic waste and composting it, obtaining a fertilizer for organic farming. It was set up in 2015, in a village with just over 1400 inhabitants, located 40 km away from Bucharest. On an area of 4 hectares, 16 people from the region cultivate 80 types of vegetables, without pesticides and without mechanical processes. The farm is in the process of organic certification (the evaluation takes two years).
The vegetables produced by Bio&Co are sold to responsible consumers, through subscriptions. The basket content depends on the seasonal production plan and vegetables and is identical for all baskets delivered during a week. The vegetables are of great diversity; the basket may contain even other complementary products locally manufactured by local craftsmen (wooden spoons, honey etc.).
– Fight against food waste and pollution, act for responsible waste management and environmental protection;
– Promote solidarity and responsibility, in order to ensure a sustainable development.
Budget: The funding is based mainly on donations, but also on responsible customers’ subscriptions for organic vegetables.
Material resources: the farm has a vegetable preparation room, greenhouses and containers (total cost was 250.000 EUR). Also, the farm has a composting platform for food and organic waste.
Human resources: 8 workers, 1 team leader, 1 insertion counselor, 1 insertion responsible, 1 volunteer expert in organic crops, 1 agronomist engineer and the manager.
• 1 personalized socio-professional accompaniment, carried out by insertion specialists
• 4 hectares of agricultural land have been planted with organic vegetables
• 4.000 sqm. of solariums, for a production of 52 weeks/year
• 80 types of vegetables grown according to the principles of organic farming
• biodiversity preservation
• 160 users of subscribers and actively involved in supporting Bio&Co activity
• local distribution, directly to subscribers
• 1 food and organic waste composting platform of 1000 sqm.
• 1 pilot project for the collection of fruit and vegetable waste generated by retail industry
• 1 pilot project for reducing food waste and promoting food solidarity
• 1 educational farm (focused on healthy eating, biodiversity, food waste reduction, environmental protection) and sensory discovery for children
In 2016, Bio&Co employees and volunteers produced 900 baskets of vegetables, which were delivered to 83 subscribers. Also, in 2016, Bio&Co collected and processed 400 tons of food waste. Much of this was good food, which made the project initiators want to create a program for redirecting some of the products to disadvantaged people (1796 kg of vegetables were donated to poor families).
b) Through all activities carried out in Bio&Co project, the focus is to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity, ensure the soil, air and groundwater quality, by observing European and national rules regarding organic agriculture and integrating the principles of sustainable development.
c) The vegetables and fruits are produced locally, are fresh and of good quality and are distributed in short circuit directly to the consumers, without polluting by transport for hundreds or thousands of kilometers.
d) The project contributes to food waste prevention, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and diverting food waste from lanfilling; also is supporting organic farming and local producers. It also has an educational component by organizing meetings with children, organizations and other stakeholders interested in the importance of preventing waste generation and developing organic farming.
e) Bio&Co preserves natural resources, aims to zero waste generated, reduces pollution and waste by using as few packaging as possible and the ones they use are natural, reusable, recyclable and locally produced.
As a business model, it is based on subscriptions and donations, promoted within a large number of potential stakeholders (companies and their employees). Subscribers who want to actively support the Bio&Co can become consumer members, contributing with an annual subscription. A special engagement option of Bio&Co subscription is the opportunity to give up one’s weekly basket when leaving on vacation, to families from Bucharest that are living below the poverty line and for which the vegetables are inaccessible.
The subscription price for vegetables baskets is fixed, but production may vary depending on aspects specific to natural farming; the price allows an equitable remuneration to Bio&Co employees, as well as to small local producers who provide complementary products. In parallel, in partnership with the Mladita Association, school courses and fun and educational activities are offered to the children of the farm village. Solidarity baskets are offered to the poorest families.
Bio&Co respects the natural cycle of plants, does not use chemicals and does not force the growth of vegetables and fruits. They try to work with local varieties, adapted to the soil and climate specificity. This model can be adapted to other countries as well, if observing these principles. It can be easily replicated by small or large communities at relatively low costs because the operating principle is quite simple.
Even adopted in 2016, the Food Waste law is not yet in force in Romania (due to the postponement of its applicability and lack of methodological norms). The problem is that this law is not but should be correlated with the waste pyramid and waste framework legislation