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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Was A "Glean Team" Member (For A Day)

From contributing editor Annette Eason

Gleaning is an ancient concept. It means to gather what is left in a field after harvest or to collect, little by little with patient effort. Food Forward has given the concept of 'gleaning' a much needed contemporary twist, first gathering fruit from trees in peoples yards and now in its latest venture, gathering what is left after local framers markets.
So why bother with modern gleaning? It keeps a lot of perfectly great food from going to waste, taking up space in landfills and producing polluting gases. More immediately, it can help feed those in the greatest need. That's a double blast of sustainability. Gathering what was left at the end of the farmers markets, the FM Recovery program, just started last August. So when the call went out at the end of last week that Food Forward's Hollywood Farmers Market "Glean Team" had an opening on Sunday, I jumped on it. 

When I got there I met the real "Glean Team", from left to right, Jane, Colin and Jack. What does the "Glean Team" do? The concept is brilliantly simple, distribute boxes to all the farmers who think they might have things left at the end of the market and then at the end of the market gather all the full boxes. It does take some serious work and hustle, attention to detail and a good attitude. The last was easy because this "Glean Team" was a seriously fun group.

Oh, did I mention it started to rain. No big deal. Also hand cart skills are a plus, but not a requirement.

And what we gathered was some beautiful produce, just look at those tomatoes. We got tomatoes, butter lettuce, arugula, spinach, rapini, rainbow chard, carrots, kale, potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, apples, grapes, persimmons and more....
It makes the farmers happy because they hate to see what they worked so hard to grow go to waste.

Each week Food Forward features one of the participating farms. This week it was Valdivia Farms from Carlsbad.

So by the end of the market, the four of us had "gleaned" over 1200 pounds of food. It was all distributed on the spot to receiving agencies who help fed the city's hungry. Not bad for an afternoon of work. Well, work was involved, but it was really a pleasure and I highly recommend the experience.

Are you interested in trying you hand at modern gleaning and joining the "Glean Team" for a day? Or maybe you can make a six month commitment to be a regular team member. Food Forward is currently looking for both!

Contact Mary at fmrecovery@foodforward.org for more information.

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