Bountiful Baskets Co-op comes to NE Wyoming!

Mama Liberty's picture

A friend and I formed a sort of "steering committee" about a month ago to bring a Bountiful Baskets co-op drop site to Newcastle in order to obtain really fresh fruits and vegetables. Some here may remember that lack of same was one of the real problems with living in rural NE Wyoming. Little is produced here, and shipping makes the cost at the grocery stores very high.

Linda and I went all the way to Ten Sleep (about 200 miles) to volunteer at one of the established drop points, a requirement to set up your own drop. It only took an hour to unload the truck and distribute the produce into the baskets. We learned a lot, and had the chance to meet some wonderful people.

This is from our first flyer, handed out all over town:

BOUNTIFUL BASKETS FOOD CO-OP

Would you be interested in participating in a food co-op if you could get approximately $50.00 worth of produce for $15.00?

Here are a few things to consider:
#1. Reasons to participate: This is a great deal and you are helping others get a great deal, too. With the conventional produce offering, you get approximately $50.00 worth of grocery store quality produce. This co-op encourages a healthier lifestyle, and you meet great people!
#2. How the co-op works: As a group, we purchase items at deep discounts. Items are usually purchased from a warehouse that supplies produce to many local restaurants and grocery stores. This is the same produce you would get from a restaurant or store, and then distributed evenly among participants.
#3. Basket contents: We get a variety of high-quality seasonal produce. We balance variety with seasonality in order to get the most appealing and cost-effective basket possible.
#4. This is a Co-op: This is a grass-roots, all volunteer, no contracts, no catch co-operative. Without volunteers nothing happens, so you will need to help as you are able. Having healthy food at affordable cost is so valuable in our communities. Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op (BBFC) distributes produce baskets, organic produce baskets, artisan bread and sandwich bread every other week. We all work together for mutual benefit. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group, pay rock bottom prices on the food. All it takes is a little time, energy and a smile.

The co-op is expanding rapidly and new things are being offered all the time. New drop sites can be organized easily. Information is available at the website.

I also got a lug of Utah peaches for another $15. My friend got a lug of tomatoes and a 5 pack of multi grain bread. Each delivery contains different things because the co-op buys whatever is available at the best prices.

I've eaten far too many peaches so far, but most of the rest of them are now safely in the freezer, along with the large red peppers and the strawberries!

Mama Liberty's first Bountiful Basket

Congratulations!

That sounds like a terrific solution to the fresh produce situation there; I hope it works out well for you.

Regarding your image, I can see where it’s supposed to be, but for some reason I cannot see it. If you send it to me, I can try to put it in your post for you.

Thanks!

Thanks for fixing the picture. That's my basket, combined fruits and vegetables. The strawberries alone would have cost $5. here, and the 5 lb. potatoes are going for about $2.50 now. You can see that I got a lot more than $15. worth of food out of the deal.

Can't wait to see what I get next time! :)

A few glitches along the way...

One of the requirements to set up a new drop site is to volunteer three different times at a site already established. Since there are not too many sites in this part of the state, my co-coordinators and I traveled to Sheridan last Saturday for our second stint. This was THEIR first drop and everyone was green as grass. We all learned a lot.

The truck was supposed to be there by 1 PM, so we got there around 12:30, so afraid we'd be late. Not to worry... The truck didn't come and when the site coordinator called the main office she learned that the truck had problems and the route was new to the driver so he was running very late. We were told he might be there any time between 4 and 7 PM. YIKES!

The site coordinator frantically called everyone who had purchased a basket and told them she'd call back when the truck finally came. It was very good this was the first drop for them because they only had 26 baskets ordered! Some sites have several hundred now.

We sat around and shared, but were worried because we had a 3 hour drive back home! We were very relieved when the truck finally pulled in at 3:45.

The unloading was fast and uneventful, and the very tired truck driver was happy that we were not angry with him - even though the troubles and the new route were not his fault. He said the bountiful basket people were some of the nicest folks he delivered to.

So, we got all of the produce divided into the baskets, got our baskets loaded in the car and were on the road by 5:30. We were supposed to stay until all the baskets were picked up, and help clean the site afterwards, but the ladies there insisted we start home once the distribution was done. And we were very grateful to accept.

We will go back to Sheridan Oct. 30th for our third training session, then we'll be on our own. The site here is supposed to open November 13.

We need all the luck we can get. :) But it is going to be well worth whatever it takes to do this.

Origin of food

Where will the food come from, MamaLiberty? I'm thinking especially of produce now -- November is not exactly harvest-time. Is it grown in greenhouses in Wyoming, or shipped in from other (western) states? Where is/are the main "headquarters"? (Not sure if "headquarters" is plural or not. :-)

Glad you asked

The website doesn't have a lot of information about this, but you can find it if you look hard. :)

The headquarters office is in Arizona. The produce comes from all over the west, mostly, and is the same as grocery stores and restaurants buy. The co-op searches for the best deals and the best product available and then makes it available to the members.

The big difference to us is that it doesn't sit around in various middleman warehouses and grocery stores until it is limp and half dead. It is shipped fresh, direct and fast to the member drop sites.

Since we are all volunteers, we don't have to pay either the middleman costs or the overhead of the grocery stores.

Some of that may change, however. At some point, the whole thing will become so large and spread out that some kind of professional central management will be required to maintain integrity of scheduling and delivery. Searching for good deals and buying such volume in a timely and logical manner just has to be a full time job for more than one person at this point.

Our recent problem in Sheridan seems to demonstrate that pretty well. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.

Thanks...

...for the info. It does sound like a good deal. I hope it's successful.

Newcastle drop site confirmed!

We did it!! Our first drop will come on November 13. We have 13 members ready to order too. So much for 13 not being a lucky number!

I'll post pictures as soon as we have them.

No triskaidekaphobia here

Congratulations! I hope it’s a wonderful and enduring success for all of you.