The Lewisville Farmers Market season ended early, but Bountiful Baskets announced its trial resurrection in the city around the same time. With a couple day’s notice, the produce baskets the co-op offered were all claimed. The 96 participants gathered in a parking lot off of Main Street to nab two bushels of produce: one fruit basket and one vegetable basket.
Bountiful Baskets, which started in Arizona, is a co-op, meaning local participants all chip in to split the costs of the produce pallets for their area. The organization also asks participants to volunteer during operations every so often.
The volunteer-based organization took a year off when it ran into vendor issues, Lewisville site coordinator John Lyng said, and now after a successful trial run, Bountiful Baskets will be bringing fresh veggies and fruits from Waco to Lewisville.
“I was a little skeptical just because I was like, ‘OK we’ve been down for a year’,” Lyng said about notifying participants last minute. “But the thing is all the baskets were accounted for in two hours.”
Participants can register on bountifulbaskets.org. Around noon on Mondays, those wishing to get a share of the produce the following Saturday fill out an online request and make a payment before the following Tuesday evening.
The baskets are first-come-first-serve, and there are more than 90 spots available each week. Participants can currently choose to purchase a regular basket and add on extras, such as 40 pounds of sweet potatoes or 8 pounds of mangoes.
The baskets and add-ons vary week to week, season to season.
Holding a case of tomatoes, an add-on, Rebecca DuBois said she makes her own sauce, with which her husband, Tom, will make barbecue sauce.
“It just gives us a better opportunity to make fresh and feed our families healthily,” she said.
The DuBoises frequented the Carrollton Bountiful Baskets before it stopped delivering. They go to farmers markets to get much of their produce. Tom DuBois said they like to get their groceries by buying from and supporting local farmers.
“My understanding is they source it not from conglomerate farmers but from smaller farmers,” he said. “I’d rather support the small guy than the big guy. They take more care, more pride it seems. Quality seems to be better.”
Add-ons aside, the contents of the baskets are a mystery until the delivery truck arrives.
Addison resident Deserai Goldsmith picked up her reserved bushels during the trial week and said she had been getting produce from Bountiful Baskets for about seven months before it stopped making deliveries.
“I am a creature of habit, so when I go to the store, I get the same thing, same thing, same thing. This brings me out of my comfort zone,” Goldsmith said. “I like having the variety and getting new stuff without having to panic about it at the store.”
Goldsmith said the process makes getting groceries convenient and called the unknown nature of what will be in the basket that week the art of surprise.
Lyng said not really knowing what will show up is an aspect some people enjoy while others do not.
“There’s stuff that’s in there that, in the past, I wouldn’t necessarily buy, like I wouldn’t go to the store to go get,” he said. “But the thing is, well it’s in the basket. So alright, let me figure out what to do with it.”
While Jerusalem artichokes and daikon radishes were on Lyng’s list of new vegetables to incorporate into his meals, he also said he was not as accustomed to more common items such as squash prior to getting the baskets and now is in the habit of preparing them. Otherwise he gifts the produce he doesn’t care for to his mom.
Richard Welsh of Lewisville said he too will give produce he and his wife don’t use to others, namely their kids and neighbors.
As he sorted vegetables into a basket, Welsh said the co-op is doing good in the community. He was surprised when it stopped running since it happened so suddenly.
“They help a lot of people out. It’s wholesome food, fresh food, and the price is pretty good,” Welsh said.
Regular baskets are $15 plus a processing fee of $1.50. The first-time basket fee is $3. There is also a fuel surcharge to account for increases in gas prices over the past decade, which varies by state.
Bountiful Baskets operates in 25 states, according to its website. There are 14 locations currently providing produce in Texas. There are about 45 locations in Texas that are pending.
The Lewisville Bountiful Baskets makes weekly deliveries for pick-up at 8 a.m. to the parking lot of the Bolin Administration Center. To take part in the co-op’s efforts, go to bountifulbaskets.org.