Citizen Action Monitor

I love this story — New Zealanders create model of local food independence eliminating BIG FOOD oligopoly

Ooooby is a New Zealand player in a fast-growing global local-food movement

No 417 Posted by fw, February 21, 2012

Hard to believe that something out of New Zealand called an “Ooooby” using something else called “Rooby’s” are causing a stir around the globe among advocates of locally grown food. Find out why by reading this post.

Some people just talk, talk, and talk some more, about what we must do, should do, ought to do, could do, need to do about the many crises we face. Others, like the New Zealanders featured in this story, JUST DO IT! How refreshing.

The Ooooby Local Economic Model by Pete Russell, published on February 18, 2012, on a site promoting a book titled, Fleeing Vesuvius. Everything about this story is strange and wonderful. I have added subheadings and made minor editing changes. To read the original account, click on the preceding linked title.

Starting in 2008 as an online social network of gardeners, today Ooooby is a distribution network

Ooooby began in December 2008 on Waiheke Island, Auckland, as an online social network of food gardeners. An evolving project, it now also facilitates the distribution of locally grown food. Ooooby has (in May 2011) 3,600 members, 10,000 monthly visitors, 50 local suppliers and 150 weekly customers. Each month an Oooobyversity evening is hosted in Grey Lynn, Auckland, to share knowledge about food-growing and ways to enhance local production.

Ooooby’s predecessor – a print-based Barter Directory

Ooooby was conceived almost 20 years earlier with the creation of the National Barter Directory of Goods and Services (Australia) by Karen Russell, my mother. The Barter Directory, formed at a time of economic downturn, flourished as thousands of people began to barter as a way to stretch their spending power. This period taught me that if we help people to help themselves by providing the right tools, they will spontaneously improve their circumstances rather than complain about or wait for help from a higher authority.

That lesson has proven itself again with the successful development of the Ooooby concept. Whereas the Barter Directory was a print solution featuring any and all goods and services, Ooooby is primarily an online solution focusing initially on local food.

Fed up with the established economic order, people are looking for trading systems that are fair, trustworthy, simple, understandable and grounded in things that have real value

This time, however, the economic downturn is looking more like a chronic state of economic demise. More people than ever before are losing trust in the established economic order and looking for fair ways to exchange value with one another. The convenience and the reliability of readily available internet technology are enabling viable challenges to the dominant monetary system. It is becoming increasingly important that a trading system be simple, elegant, understandable and underpinned by items of real and tangible value.

Enter the Rooby – a local, sustainable “currency model” in the form of “internal credits” with tangible benefits over bank-issued  currency

The Ooooby economic model uses locally grown food and food-processing labour to underpin a system of internal credits called Roobys. Now serving over 50 local growers in the Auckland region, the Rooby system has operated successfully since October 2009.

Ooooby stall

Participants can earn and spend Roobys at Ooooby’s market stall in Parnell, Auckland, and via its weekly Auckland-wide local-food home delivery service. For every $10.00 a customer pays Ooooby, the producer earns 9 Roobys, each of which is worth $1.00 if used to purchase other Ooooby members’ goods or services, or $0.50 if redeemed for cash. The balance covers retail costs.

A currency based on local food affords people an opportunity to generate value from scratch. If you can grow some food you can create purchasing power. This is a sustainable currency model, quite unlike the dominant system in which only sanctioned institutions have the right to create money. Roobys represent a new model of fair and decentralized value exchange. There is no Ooooby bank issuing Roobys from thin air.

Next steps – increase Rooby’s accessibility and replicate Ooooby as locally-owned coops

The Rooby system is a prototype, a set of easily understandable agreements and online tools which facilitate exchange and provide transparent transaction records. The next step is to digitize the system in order to make it as widely available and as easily accessible as possible. The Ooooby model is to be replicated in other regions. Each Ooooby centre will be a locally-owned cooperative entity.

Security and control found in food independence

Local food production serves to rectify one of our greatest social threats, the control of our food supply by an oligopoly of megacorporations. It restores a region’s food independence, enabling interdependent relationships with neighbouring regions. Ooooby ( is a New Zealand player in a fast-growing global local-food movement.

Fair Use Notice: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.

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