1.  Why should I participate in this program?
  • You can go to the grocery store only when you need shelf stable items, and other non-perishable goods mostly.  While strictly adhering to the stay-at-home guidelines, I realized my diet didn’t have the normal amount of fruit and vegetables.  Now you can get fresh food without entering large stores.
  • We are setting up a whole new LOCAL food distribution channel.  Buyfarmfood.com will ALWAYS try and source the produce from Florida if possible, and from farms close to us especially.  But in the summer (when there are only a couple items harvested in Florida), and for other various reasons, we will source from outside Florida.  When we do it, it will be from surrounding states first and then in widening circles as necessary.  We post on Facebook once or twice a week about the source of the food in the boxes.
  • The food will be fresher because there is no distribution channel for it go through.  The food will go from the farm, to our truck, to the pickup location, and into your car.  Awesome!!!
  • Less waste.  There is literally tons and tons of produce that goes to waste in the traditional food distribution chain.  A store never really knows how many tomatoes or watermelon to buy.  They have left over produce every day that mostly gets thrown away.  With this program, since you order in advance, THERE IS NO WASTE!  Every ear  of corn, every head of cabbage, every pound of produce that we get goes immediately to a family to eat.  Love it!!!
  • When you give a box to needy families, you’re getting an opportunity to make a difference immediately and locally.  Right now, right here.  There’s no politics, there’s no disputing if this charity or that charity is doing a good job.  You are simply giving wonderful fresh food and a healthier life to others who need a helping hand.  If you can do this, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

2.  Do I have to buy a box for myself, or can I just donate boxes?

You can just donate boxes.  If you only donated boxes, there is no need to show up and provide any proof of purchase during the pickup period.  It will automatically be donated.

3.  Is there anything I can do to help other than donate boxes?

Yes.  You can post on social media about the program, and let your friends and neighbors know.

4.  Where do I select my pickup location?

In the shopping cart.

5.  What if something happens and I can’t get to the pickup location on time.

(Answer is taken from one of our weekly emails)

The main subject for today’s email will tackle the BIG question.  What happens if you forget or can’t pick up your box?

I feel my 1st obligation is always to you our customer.  You make the wheels go round.  I feel for you when it happens.  However, it’s fresh food.  I can’t hold it for you till the next week.  Another aspect is the schedule of the food pantry.  What days are they open?  When can they give out the food?  That is different for every one of them.  Then there’s BuyFarmFood.com.  We can’t provide two boxes for the price of one.  So when it’s not picked up, we have to do something with it then.  Another consideration I have is that many people don’t have credit cards or other means to order online.  It’s simple, but still difficult for many to get done.  So I churned all this in my head, and have come up with our policy.

First off, we are going to allow anyone that didn’t order a box for whatever reason (or even accidentally ordered a donation box), to show up at the end of the pickup window (5:45 pm), and if we have leftover boxes, they will be able to be purchased for cash. You must bring the correct amount of cash.  We don’t know what we will have, so please be able to pay either $15 or $25.   Please note that this will be possible only if we have leftover boxes.  We may not sometimes.  Also, be there early – about 5:45 pm please.

From now on the policy for “not picked up” boxes is:

If you do not pick up your box, it will be donated or possibly purchased with cash by someone coming at 6pm. To ease the pain a bit, and since our pickup sheets frequently get messed up, you should email us that you were unable to get your box.  There are two options if you let us know what you want to do.

  1. Tell us you would like to receive a discount code that takes 20% off your next box.  OR
  2. Tell us that you want to come to the next days pickup location and get it.  If you choose the second option, you must let us know before 9pm on the day you missed your pickup.

Please take care when ordering to select donation boxes only when you want to donate.  We have customers that accidentally selected donation boxes when they meant to get it for themselves.  It’s a problem because we already donated it most of the time.  We don’t have another box to give you.  Unlike the scenario above where the box is not picked up, the accidental donation box has been donated and we don’t have it anymore.  To ease the pain a little in this scenario, we’ll email you a discount code for 10% off your next box.  Or as mentioned above, if you want a box that day, you can come at 5:45 and get one if we have one left.  I’ll give you the 10% off at that time, so if you do this, bring $22.50 for a family box, or $13.50 for a singles/couple box.

6.  How do I know that food I’m donating to the food bank actually gets delivered?

Every day the food bank will provide a receipt of how many boxes were donated.  Each month we will provide proof to the participating food banks that the number of boxes purchased as a donation equals the number of boxes the food bank has received.  In addition, we frequently take a video of the “weigh in” of the donations.  Check out Facebook for many of them.

7.  Pickup will be as scheduled rain or shine.  If there is some reason it’s not going to, we’ll post on Twitter and on Facebook.

8.  Is the produce organic?

No.  It is commercially grown.

9.  Can I have someone else pickup my order?

Yes.  Print your order confirmation and give it to that person, or forward the confirmation email to them, so they can show it to us on the phone.  Having several orders picked up by one vehicle helps us because it lowers the number of cars coming to the pickup location.  Thanks for pooling the pickups.  🙂

10.  Does the contents of the bag change throughout the pickup day?
Yes.
 
There are many reasons for it.  Here is ONE example:
One of my biggest challenges is knowing how much to buy in the morning. I never really know how many potatoes are in the box, or peppers, or peaches or whatever.  Even if I count the contents of one particular container, the number can vary widely between containers.  So lets say I’m buying peaches.  I count peaches in a container, and there are 60.  I know I need 237 of them, so I buy 4 boxes.  When I get to the pickup sight, and we start bagging peaches, we discover that some peaches in one of the containers are no good.  AND to top it off, two of the boxes had large peaches and there were only 50 in them.  So now between being 20 short, and another 10 that can’t be used, we are short 30 peaches.  So as soon as I realize this, we cut the number of peaches in each order.  Luckily, almost all of the time when we have to do that, we discover the item we have extra of, and add more of it.  However, on super busy days, we might not realize we are short 30 of something until almost the end and there’s nothing we can do, except add lots of another item that we still have.  
You might say… well, there’s an easy fix.  Just buy an extra box.  That may seem to be a solution but it isn’t.  The first reason is because I have the price of the box as low as it can possibly be, so there is no extra money to buy extra of things to have them just in case.  But even if we did, the opposite happens and now we have 63 extra peaches, plus a couple other boxes had extra, so now we have 93 peaches left.  That won’t work either.  You see?  Just using peaches again for example, there have been days that we end up with over 4 cases of peaches left over, because of various reasons.
So if sometimes you seem to have lots of something and not so much of something else, the above could be the reason.  But, realized that I have only detailed one of the possible reasons here.  There are several others.
And in case this information inspires you to arrive early, realize that for many reasons, all this can take place in reverse, and the bags at the end of the day can weigh 30 pounds, and have lots of everything because way too much was purchased.  I would say this is more common than running out because I always try to make sure we don’t run out.
There is one thing for sure.  I do everything I can to fill the boxes with a nice variety of farm fresh food.  If one particular week you’re disappointed because you only got 2 tomatoes, and you see that another box got 4, there will be another week when you will be thrilled to get an eggplant, or some hot peppers, or extra of whatever it is you like.
11.  Is everything grown in Florida?
.

(Answer taken from one of the weekly emails)

I want to relay a quick note about sources because many people ask me.

When I started, I received the box from a local farm. I quickly realized however that no farm can provide the quality and quantity we need regularly. I also realized I couldn’t trek around each morning to 10 farms and pick up what they had. So I began to mostly hook up with many people that did the picking, and the transporting from the farm to Plant City.

Yes, some were still the actual farmers, but most were pickers and transporters. I cultivated those relationships to get the best and freshest available. But just as I realized with the farmers, these sources also were unreliable in the ability to provide consistent quality and quantity. So then I had to network with more and more people to source what we needed.

That worked great until recently. Now the harvesting season in Florida and Georgia is mostly over, and we have to depend on big trucks to bring us our fruit and vegetables. Not completely mind you, we are still getting great okra and some other items locally. So over the last couple weeks, I’ve found and set up new sources that own and transport the food in the big trucks, and I am able to go right to them and get it as fresh as it can possibly be. It’s the fastest shortest supply chain possible. There are no middlemen. No delivery men coolers, no grocery store coolers, just the farmers, the truck, me and you. Our food will go to your table the same day I get it, and that’s as good as it gets.

This supply chain will last until mid to late October. Just so you know what to expect, I’ve included this graphic courtesy of ufseeds.com. It shows you when we can expect Florida to rev up again. Thanks for supporting us during this time, and especially thank you for supporting our food banks and families that need help.

Image may contain: text that says 'Start Seeds Indoors JAN FEB MAR Plant Seed/Transplant Seed MAY JUN JUL Beans AUG Harvest SEP OCT Beets NOV DEC Beans Broccoli Beets Brussel Sprouts Broccoli Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Cabbage Carrots Corn Cucumber Cauliflower Corn Lettuce Cucumber Cucumber Onions Kale Peas Lettuce Peppers Spinach Peas Peppers Squash Tomato Tomato Spinach Tomato'

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