Giving fruits

Pandemic relief student-run non- profit adapts to a post-quarantine life

December 13, 2022

In the depths of quarantine, a problem arose for both farmers and consumers. Local farms lost many of their main outlets — farmers markets, cafeterias, wholesale markets, and more. A question emerged: how would people get their fresh fruits? 

From this emerged Giving Fruits, a Palo Alto nonprofit organization which connects local farmers with clients. Giving Fruits transfers produce from small Bay Area farms to consumers. The organization compiles advertisements for local farms on their website, where buyers can go and order produce. During quarantine, this was a good way of remotely connecting farmers and buyers. 

“Especially during the peak of the pandemic, it was a very important outlet for us,” said Marsha Habib, owner of local family farm Oya Organics. “We had lost a lot of our other sales outlets that we had, prior to the pandemic.”

But as they emerge from the pandemic, many of these outlets are opening up again. Giving Fruits is adapting.

Giving Fruits president and Palo Alto High School senior Anjali Bhattarcharya said that she got involved in Giving Fruits mostly because of a desire for in-person interaction. She said she’s grateful she chose to get involved.

Bhattarchaya said that farmers are still in need of Giving Fruits, as they are still feeling the effects of the pandemic. 

We had lost a lot of our other sales outlets that we had, prior to the pandemic,

— Marsha Habib

“The status of it now that the pandemic is over, like the need is still there, or the mentality of customers is still there of wanting to support it.”

She plans to continue the nonprofit’s efforts of connecting farms with customers, while also giving back profits to the Bay Area community.

“We’re gonna source and create some packages for … the South Palo Alto Women’s Shelter,” Bhattarchaya said. 

Habib works closely with Giving Fruits, and said that the group used to focus more on directly pandemic-impacted groups, and have been shifting focus in terms of who they donate to.

“Now, as we’re coming out of the pandemic they’re benefiting more charities and local shelters,” Habib said.

Bhattarcharya said that Giving Fruits is trying to become more customer-centric, now that face-to-face interactions are more plausible.

“We form more relationships with them [customers],” Bhattarcharya said. “Instead of just ‘fill out this form, we’ll put stuff [fruits] in your car.’”

Maria Greggorio, owner of a cherry farm was the person who contacted Habib to join Giving Fruits.

“She wanted to include other farm products,” said Habib, “And so we’re a diversified vegetable farm and also have access to strawberries, and no other farmers that have fruits. So she reached out to us. And at the time, we were also pivoting our sales outlets. And so we were like, Yeah, sure, we can definitely collaborate and help to bring up more farm products to giving fruits.”

Bhattarcharya said that, though running this organization is challenging, it is worth it. 

“It is hard work and a bunch of different things to do each week with communications with farms and city officials and things like that,” Bhattarcharya said. “But overall, I’d say it’s a really fun experience and I’m really glad that I signed up for it.”

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