A couple months ago I volunteered to be a site co-ordinator for Bountiful Baskets. BB is a non-profit organization started by two women in Arizona , Tanya and Sally. They must have last names, but to thousands of housewives in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming, they are just Tanya and Sally and what they have done is amazing.
My site runs every other week, some run every week. Participants log onto the Bountiful Baskets website at a certain time each week, choose how many baskets they want and then pay their contribution amount of $15. Tanya and Sally oversee the co-ordination of thousands of orders in 5 states, order the produce and then get it on its way for the Saturday morning pick-ups. Friday night or Saturday morning I print out a sheet that tells me what's coming on the truck and then the order sheet listing each person and what they ordered.
Saturday morning (for my site it's 6:15) I show up and hope that several other participants get themselves out of bed and show up to help as well. The truck arrives and we unload boxes and boxes of produce. We have amazing volunteers that show up each week and help to count out the baskets to be sure we end up with just the right amount, count what comes off the truck, and disperse the produce into the baskets. Each participant gets two baskets, one with the veggies and one with fruit. Participants bring their own boxes, coolers or shopping bags to load the produce into and take it home. I can't say enough about how great our volunteers are, I've been the site co-ordinator for just a few cycles and the volunteers have made everything run so smoothly. We have between 110 and 120 participants each week and the hope is that everyone shows up, gets what they ordered and leave happy. The participants start lining up about 7:30 and as soon as we have everything ready to go, the volunteers check people in and make sure they get what they ordered .
The popularity of Bountiful Baskets has grown like crazy in the last 6 months. The BB website has gone through some growing pains trying to keep up with the demand of so many people logging on and trying to get their order placed before their site sells out. Tanya and Sally re-did the website and several new locations have opened up in an effort to make this co-op accessible to as many people as possible.
This has been a great thing to be involved with and I'm appreciative that Russ has been so supportive. If he's not camping with the scouts he gets up and is right there helping with all the other volunteers, counting produce, breaking down boxes and whatever else I yell out to him to help with. BB isn't just for the ladies, we have lots of great husband volunteers--which we appreciate, boxes of potatoes can get pretty heavy!
In addition to saving money on the same produce at the grocery store, participating in a produce co-op exposes us to items I would never have purchased. We're still not fans of brussel sprouts, but we found out we do like asparagus and even swiss chard. The coconut I got two weeks ago, I'm still not sure what to do with...Most of the items are things everyone likes and uses but there is always something new to try. This week it's Bok Choy..lots and lots of Bok Choy. Fortunately I have a Rachel Ray, Lo Mein recipe that it will be perfect in!!