How could it take up to six weeks?

When Carl was alive and distributing sourdough starter, he grew a large batch and refrigerated or froze it. This allowed him to fill requests as they arrived in most cases. The 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Preservation Society also known as Carls Friends, with volunteers scattered across the country, has had to adopt a different approach.

One volunteer tends a Post Office box and collects the requests and Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes. When a sufficient quantity of requests has accumulated, the PO box tender forwards the SASE's to a volunteer who grows and mails out the starter. This method allows us to send out fresh starts and preserves the ability to have more than one volunteer growing and mailing starts with one mailing address for requests. One downside is the transit time between volunteers. The mail can be slow at times.

First-class mail can be 4 to 11 days in transit. As an illustration consider the following schedule:

1. Mail to PO box allow one week
2. The mail is picked up once a week so you could have a week at the mail box
3. Turnover time allow 1/2 week
4. Mail to volunteer allow one week
5. Turnover time allow 1/2 week
6. Mail back to requester allow 1 week.

So far we are at 5 weeks and nothing has gone wrong and we have not allowed for accumulation at the mail box tenders station or short vacations or illness or heavy schedules from time to time. If it is less than six weeks there is probably nothing to worry about. The good news is that most often requests are turned around in considerably less than six weeks because it would be rare for a single request to get the longest times on all the transitions.

-C. Perry, June 2001