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Backyard Produce Not Harvested

September 3, 2011

An astute Save the Harvest reader has raised the question of backyard citrus (yes, we live in Southern California, but try substituting apples or peaches in case that works better for your neck of the woods) that falls on the ground and never gets harvested.  How do we save that?

To this question I applied my finely honed research skills, practiced daily in my other life, to discover some options.  As it turns out, all the options I found appear to be home grown.  That is, there is no global solution to the management of backyard produce lost due to sheer abundance.   My research uncovered at least two local solutions to the management of backyard abundance.

Hillside Produce Cooperative This organization began in North East Los Angeles, but it now has six geographically dispersed chapters and over 300 members.  Here’s how founder Hyden Walch describes the North East Los Angeles Calfornia cooperative: “It’s a free neighborhood monthly exchange of all the FRUITS, VEGETABLES, HERBS and FLOWERS we grow in our yards, a collective in which we all get to enjoy some of what everyone grows in exchange for contributing what we don’t want or won’t use ourselves.  Then no food is wasted and we all get a variety of fresh local produce to eat for free.”  Hyden has set up a system of exchange that takes place once a month on a Saturday morning.   The website includes good information on how to get organized in your area.  Other chapters have formed in West LA, Ventura, Murietta CA, Merced CA, and as far away as Kingston Canada.

Food Forward, another Los Angeles based organization works to pick, donate, and distribute food for humanitarian purposes.  Here’s an excerpt from their Mission Statement – “Food Forward’s mission is to reconnect people with people – through food – by bringing together volunteers and neighbors to share in the gleaning and distributing of locally grown food from private homes and public spaces which is then used to help feed the hungry.”  Can’t argue with that.  For further inspiration, Food Forward provides links to other gleaning groups:

Backyard Bounty
Village Harvest
Portland Fruit Tree Project
SoCal Harvest
Harvest Westchester
Inland Orange Conservancy

I heard a story on the radio this morning about how hard it is for teens to find work these days.  You can’t help but wonder if they might provide the seeds of a labor force to get something like this off the ground in your community.  Any takers?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2011 1:58 pm

    Interesting and inspiring! I’ve heard about such programs in the past, but this is a wonderful collection of references that provide excellent examples of how this might work in our community.

    • Cindy Shamel permalink*
      September 8, 2011 8:33 am

      I agree that these examples are very inspiring. Perhaps if we spread the word someone will be inspired to take action. Wouldn’t it be grand if every community had a version of Food Forward or a produce cooperative?

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