Glean Gardens or Get Rid of Your Extra Produce to Help the Hungry
Apples being gleaned by Food for People from a Willow Creek property last fall. [Photo from Food for People’s Facebook page.]
Food for People Press Release:
Spring has already blossomed into summer, and Food for People, the Food Bank for Humboldt County, is looking forward to another bountiful growing season of working with local farmers and gardeners through their Gleaning Program. Food for People once again invites community residents growing food to make a difference and share the benefits of fresh, local produce with those in need by donating the surplus from their farms, gardens or fruit trees this season.
Food for People’s Gleaning program helps bridge the gap between food insecurity and abundant local food sources by collecting surplus produce from local farms and gardens that might otherwise go to waste, and making it available to our friends and neighbors in need. Last year Food for People’s Gleaning program brought in a total of 73,678 lbs of fresh, local produce from farms, gardens and back yards throughout Humboldt County. This produce was then distributed to over 12,000 people, many of whom are seniors or families with children, helping to make fresh, healthy, locally grown food available to folks who otherwise might not be able to afford it.
Food for People’s Gleaning program is composed of two primary elements –donations of produce from commercial farmers, and donations of produce from local residents with gardens or fruit trees. Food for People has long-standing relationships with many local farmers who donate extra produce because they know the food they grow will get to those who need it, as well as reduce farm waste. Typically, farmers will donate produce leftover from a farmers market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) distribution that has already been harvested but not sold for whatever reason. Other times farmers will invite food bank staff and volunteers to harvest items on the farm that are still perfectly edible but might not be worth the farmer’s time in the field, such as broccoli side-shoots left from a bed after the main heads were cut, or an old patch of green beans or spinach.
Deep Seeded Community Farm is one of Food for People’s most regular gleaning supporters. Farmer Eddie Tanner donates produce leftover from his twice-weekly CSA distributions in Arcata, and also periodically offers up other harvest opportunities. Eddie shares his thoughts about donating to Food for People.
“I love that the food bank has the gleaning program because there’s a lot of good, edible, second-quality produce that would otherwise get wasted in the field. And I’m fortunate that the gleaners make it easy for me to get that food to people who can use it.”
Other farm gleaning supporters include Warren Creek Farm, Little River Farm, Wild Rose Farm, Organic Matters Ranch, Neukom Family Farm, Earthly Edibles Farm, Valley Flower Vegetable, Potawot Community Food Garden, Mad River Community Hospital Farm, and Willow Creek Farm, among many others. In addition to these on-farm opportunities for food recovery, Food for People also works with the North Coast Growers Association to canvass weekly farmers markets, and collect whatever extra produce hasn’t been sold. Collectively, Humboldt County farms donated over 50,000 pounds of produce in the last year.
The second component to Food for People’s Gleaning program is the local “Plant a Row for the Hungry” campaign, involving community residents with gardens or fruit trees in the fight against hunger. “Plant a Row for the Hungry” is a nationwide campaign sponsored by the Garden Writers Association, and is a simple way for all gardeners to pitch in and provide food relief for friends and neighbors in need. By donating the surplus from their gardens to Food for People or another local food pantry, local residents can support the health and wellness of their local community. In the last year local Plant a Row participants donated over 22,000 pounds of food to Food for People, underlining just how important community involvement is in the fight against hunger. Walk-in donations of garden produce are welcome, and in many cases, Food for People can provide donors with harvest assistance and other resources depending on the size and location of the donation.
Gardens are increasingly popular, but fruit trees are particularly abundant here in Humboldt County, and many local properties boast one or more. Too often these trees are neglected and their fruit goes unpicked and left to rot on the ground, which is what prompted Food for People to emphasize fruit tree harvests again this season as a critical part of their Gleaning program and Plant a Row efforts. Food for People created a Humboldt County fruit tree gleaning database to keep track of trees available for gleaning and invites local residents to include their trees, spread the word to anyone interested in sharing their harvest, or report any fruit trees that appear untended and need some attention. Food for People’s gleaning program can sometimes even provide volunteer tree pruning services to residents willing to donate fruit from their trees.
Fresh produce is a vital part of any healthy diet, but too often if left out when money is tight. Donations made through our gleaning program support the health and wellness of our communities by increasing access to fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables for low-income residents in Humboldt County.
Food for People is always recruiting donors and volunteers for the gleaning program and there are a number of ways to participate:
- Join Food for People’s team of volunteer gleaners to help harvest produce from local farms, orchards and gardens throughout the county
- Include your fruit tree(s) in our Humboldt County fruit tree gleaning database
- Plant an extra row of food in your garden dedicated to the Plant a Row for the Hungry Campaign.
- Harvest and donate your extra produce to Food for People or to one of the 15 food pantries located throughout the county.
- Donate seeds, soil or plant starts to be distributed to Plant a Row gardeners
- Like Food for People’s Gleaning Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PARHumboldt
Food for People can provide additional assistance to donors when possible, including information, seed packets, and even volunteers to help harvest the bounty if the donation is large or donors are unable to do so themselves. Once harvested, donations can be dropped off at 307 W. 14th St. in Eureka from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Any residents living in outlying areas may directly drop off any excess produce at their local food pantries. A list of Food for People’s Pantry Network locations and their schedule of operating hours can be found online at http://www.foodforpeople.org/pantry-network-schedule-and-locations.
Food for People serves more than 12,000 low income individuals monthly, many of whom are children and seniors. Many local families never imagined they would need to request food assistance, but the income which sustained them in the near past now just barely pays the bills. Contributions from the community help meet the rising need for food assistance, and any donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Food for People would like to thank its supporters for being part of the solution.
For more information about Food for People’s Gleaning program, please contact Local Food Resources Coordinator Laura Hughes at 707-445-3166 x312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about other Food Bank programs visit www.foodforpeople.org.