In 1981, a single household in Charles Street, Erskineville went on a rent strike, and they began buying bulk grains, nuts and seeds with the money from the strike. They sold these (with a small markup) out of the front room of their house.
In 1982, the Charles Street Food Co-op relocated to the Erskineville Anglican Church Hall, and became known as ‘the Erko’.
In 1983, the Erko moved to the Alpha House building on King Street, Newtown, which was squatted by a group of artists. It was renamed the Community Food Store, and was only open on Saturdays. A small dedicated group of volunteers maintained it, and by early 1985 their aim was to form a workers’ co-operative under the Companies Act, and later to register as a consumer co-operative.Long-term, the group also hoped to have a permanent place of residence, to open six days a week, to stock fruit and vegetables, and to put a sign up outside.
In 1987, Alpha House was reclaimed by the NSW Department of Housing, which owned the building and the Community Food Store moved to 113 Enmore Road, its current location. The Enmore Road premises were known as the EPI Centre, and were shared with Permaculture Sydney. The whole co-operative took up part of what is now the storeroom. In those days, if you worked in the co-op you were paid the princely sum of one dollar an hour.
In early 1988, there was a public meeting to discuss the proposal that the Community Food Store form as a cooperative under the NSW cooperatives legislation. The meeting agreed with the proposal, and then over the following nine months a core of thirteen people developed the structure, aims and rules of the co-operative. During this time, each member pledged $1 in shares, eventually buying up the full 20 $1 shares when the co-operative was registered.
On 17 October 1988, the paperwork was complete, the required 100 people had each pledged $1, and an ‘Alfalfa House Formation Meeting’ was held. On 23 December 1988 Alfalfa House Community Food Cooperative Limited was officially registered as a cooperative, and a part-time coordinator was employed. In the early 1990s, the co-operative took over the whole of 113 Enmore Road when Permaculture Sydney relocated.