The buzz of happy customers at the CoCo Market rose above the strong gusts of wind. The monthly market was back, and several customers were shopping for their month’s supply of groceries. They could also pick up an assortment of gourmet cheeses, bath products, mangoes, bamboo products, cosmetics, and even books.
“The market was born from our personal search for organic, eco-friendly produce and lifestyle products. When we did catering, we had to go to 10 different places to source our ingredients. We realised that when this produce is so hard for us to find, it’ll be so difficult for people who don’t make this choice. That’s why we thought there should be such a place at least once a month,” said Tanya Kane, who co-founded the Conscious Community (CoCo) Market with her childhood friend Surabhi Ganguly.
The duo had been working together in the world of food as the Wagabond Chefs before they conceptualised the market. Now, like clockwork, the CoCo Market arrives in Pashan on the second Saturday in Lifepro Fitness Club and in Monalisa Kalagram on third Saturday of every month.
The market, which turned one in June this year, has about 26 vendors depending on the seasonal availability of produce. The market has a year-round supply of grains, pulses and staples, millets and ancient grains, ghee/butter, jaggery and honey, cold pressed oils, eggs, cheeses, sauces and pickles, cookies and crackers, health supplements like curcumin and moringa, herbal tea, bread, handmade natural cosmetics; hair care, home cleaning products, garden products, upcycled bags and accessories, apart from seasonal fruits, vegetables and saplings.
The vendors too are a happy lot. Nili from the Cheese House launched her business of handmade, artisanal cheeses here. “I would have shut my company if it hadn’t been for this market. Besides, this market is genuine and the community that has formed here is good,” she said.
Meanwhile Neha Pipraiya, the founder of Pagdandi, which also has a stall at the market, is happy that the market is also helping encouraging people to read, which they can’t do from their homes and stores. “Here people come and ask us, they talk to us,” she added cheerfully.
To ensure quality, the women visit a lot of farms, research and take samples. “We are also customers, so the quality is very important,” said Kane.
K Ramesh discovered the market a few months ago, and has been a dedicated customer ever since. “We were looking for organic produce which is also animal cruelty free,” he said. In addition to buying his month’s pantry from the CoCo Market, he is now trying to get friends and relatives to shop here.
“The beauty of the market is that each person, who comes here, shops. So even if we don’t have thousands coming here, even the 200 that come, go back with their bags full. Each customer brings their own bags without fail!” said Kane.
Just like Ramesh, Khalida Khanmate was very impressed by the range of products available at the market. She thought the prices were high, but the passion of the vendors was evident. “I’ve been introduced today and I’m definitely coming back!” she said.
Nitya Ghotge, another customer, believes marketing organic produce is far more challenging than customers finding it. While working with farmers, she has discovered that there are very few markets for organic produce. In that context, the CoCo Market is unique, she said, because the value chain is shorter, which will mean a bigger benefit for the farmers.
While eating organic and living a sustainable life is important to reduce human impact on the environment, Kane feels that people must convert to this lifestyle if only for health benefits. “The wrong stuff has been around for just a decade. It takes a little effort to come back,” said Ganguly, popping in and out as she attends to customers at their bread stall. “And the market is a way to do this, by getting you back to your roots,” concludes Kane.