Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Del Norte Community Gleaning Project

Gleaning is the process of using volunteer support to collect unused fresh foods from growers/ producers and donate the food to the hungry. Del Norte County has its own gleaning program that is offering its services to the community. If a private community member is growing more food on their property than they can eat, volunteers will go to their homes, harvest all their fresh food, and leave a portion for them and bring a portion to a local food bank. Similarly, if a local farm needs help with a large harvest, volunteers will go to the farm to help bring in the harvest, and deliver a percentage of it to a food bank.

Usually, gleaning refers to collecting leftover crops after the field's have been commercially harvested. Machines generally leave a lot of foods behind that would be wasted if people did not go in and collect them. Del Norte's Gleaning Project targets home gardens and smaller scale areas, but the general idea is the same.

It's a great way to make use out of food that would be wasted and to offer healthier foods to those that normally cannot afford them. Gleaning not only makes fresh food more accessible, but helps in reducing waste and strengthening community relationships. Their are many successful gleaning programs in the area including "Food for People" in Humboldt County and the Illinois Valley Gleaning Project in Oregon, and Del Norte's is a promising new program.

The Del Norte County Gleaning Project started last year with Angela Glore, Connor Caldwell, and the help of a group of 4H teens, the 4H "Citizen Group." Last summer, they would go to the farmer's markets where food vendors would donate their extra food and produce at the end of the market.  Last season, which was June-October, they collected a total of 4,114 lbs. of fresh produce, 100% of which was given out to CAN's food boxes within a 2-4 day of collection. With the start of the farmer's market this Saturday, June 2nd, the Del Norte Community Gleaning Project officially starts this year. If anyone has any food they want collected, or is willing to be a volunteer, please email Connor Caldwell at ccaldwell@dnfrc.org or the UC Extension/4H office at cedelnorte@ ucdavis.edu.

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