Local Spotlight: Giving back by ordering farm fresh produce with Maria Gregorio

Longtime Airmart vendor Palo Alto-based nonprofit Giving Fruits wants to share the wealth of Silicon Valley through farm-fresh produce.

From parking lot to table, Giving Fruits helps make fresh produce accessible to all. Photo via Giving Fruits Facebook page

It started in May 2020, when IT professional Maria Gregorio came across a neighbor’s post on Nextdoor offering to organize a group-buy of local farm-fresh cherries. She loved the idea so much, that she got in touch with the cherry farmer herself and continued the group ordering tradition in the following weeks. Ordering in bulk meant Maria got a discount on all of the produce, so she was able to donate the profits.

When first starting out, Maria designed the menus herself and collected orders through Google Forms, using PayPal or Venmo to gather payments. Customers would be asked to include their order details in the transaction descriptions, print those details, place them on their windshield, and then show it to a volunteer at the drive-thru pickup site. It was a tedious process for the small, family-run organization. When Airmart entered the picture, Maria was able to easily process orders and set up the farm menus on the online platform in minutes.

She now runs Giving Fruits with the help of student volunteers in the Palo Alto High School Giving Fruits club, which her son started before graduating in 2021.

In the early pandemic days, Giving Fruits served frontline workers, and has since pivoted to focus primarily on local homeless shelters. “It’s really shocking to hear how easy it is to fall into homelessness,” said Maria. “We want to bridge the gaps and assist with the things other programs don’t cover for the unhoused community.”

Photo via Giving Fruits Facebook page

Giving Fruits Gives to All

Despite concentrating on the homeless population, Giving Fruits will never turn away anyone else in need. The organization has recently been supporting cancer patients at the Stanford Children’s Hospital who aren’t always eligible for other financial assistance due to their undocumented status.

Like many of the wonderful vendors on Airmart, Giving Fruits’ success has been a true community effort that has grown through word-of-mouth. Maria finds organizations and families to support through neighbors who work at nonprofits, hospital staff, and the frontline workers she has served. Her neighbor Jane helps run the South Palo Alto Food Closet and serves 60 local families with Giving Fruits produce and other donations.

Giving Fruits has also recently partnered with the Reach Potential Movement in Sunnyvale, which provides life skills education and leadership training to underserved youth and their families.

Unlike other point-of-sale platforms, Airmart doesn’t charge any transaction fees, so Giving Fruits never has to cut into the profits they raise or pass any additional costs onto their farmers.

Why buy produce directly from farmers?

Next time you plan a trip to the grocery store, consider doing your produce shopping with Giving Fruits. Buying produce directly from farmers will allow you to enjoy fresh, better-tasting fruits and vegetables that haven’t traveled hundreds of miles while supporting farmers and lowering your carbon footprint.

Peaches from The Peach Jamboree. Photo via Giving Fruits Instagram

The Airmart community buying platform allows Giving Fruits to reach more customers with Bay Area-wide delivery. Airmart streamlines the ordering process to make shopping for produce and other farm-fresh goods through Giving Fruits a no-brainer. “We are all buying the essentials anyway,” Maria said. “Buying them from Giving Fruits allows you to help your neighbors.”

Shop the Giving Fruits store for fruit, vegetables, locally-made desserts, and more on Airmart.

About Us

Airmart is an online platform to help community organizers, local merchants and small businesses connect with their patrons. Airmart got its start helping minority-owned restaurants and produce wholesalers sell direct-to-consumer during the pandemic and save their businesses. It has since expanded to developing custom features for merchants to showcase their products, collect orders, and facilitate delivery.

If you would like to see a 3-minute demo before launching your free shop, you can book a demo here.

Airmart stores featuring products from seafood vendors, farmer’s markets, and local bakers.

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