By Lily Belcher
Six years ago, single mom of two Cassie Adams was working as a salesperson at a wholesale market. She would bring fresh produce home to her family by the bin, which would always leave her with too much. Adams reached out to a few families in her neighborhood and began to create a network of families that would buy the leftover produce. By the fourth week, she had 60 families involved, and Cypress Creek Co Op grew from there.
Since the small neighborhood group started on Facebook, it has grown to over 28,000 members and opened its first permanent storefront at the end of April. The storefront, which is located in Apollo Beach just off Hwy. 41, will give customers the opportunity to shop for the produce the co-op offers or purchase full bins any time.
Cypress Creek Co Op customers who cannot make it to the storefront can order bins online to pick up at walk or drive-through pop-up locations, which Adams and the co-op temporarily set up a day at a time, or have it delivered to them. Customers pay when the bins are picked up or delivered.
Cypress Creek Co Op offers opportunities for families to purchase bins of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy, bread, meats and flan, from local farmers.
“I try to buy local [first] based on what is in season. Most produce has a growing season and purchasing fruits/veggies in season at wholesale amounts can save you greatly,” explained Adams. “Not all produce is local. We do not have any apple orchards here in Florida … They grow in Washington and New York. Grapes grow better in California. I try to shoot for [five] veggies and [five] fruits every week; however, some weeks may differ.”
It offers two different bin sizes: medium, which feeds a family of four, and large, which feeds a family of five to seven. Customers can also buy weekly special and extras bins when they make their purchase on Cypress Creek Co Op’s website after paying a $5 annual membership fee.
Adams also offers volunteer opportunities for community organizations, such as the Girl/Boy Scouts of America, to help distribute the bins at the pop-up store locations. They also bring meals to first responders throughout the year and migrant families over the summer.