Connecting Farmers and Businesses Locally

food bank 2019 delivery from local farms
Delivery of fresh, local produce to the Food Bank of Nevada County 2019

In support of Sierra Harvest’s mission to make locally sourced food accessible to all, Procurement Specialist Lauren Scott, has been working to build relationships between local farmers and local businesses.

Hired by Sierra Harvest in 2017, Scott works primarily with food service directors, chefs and farmers to understand their needs, find common ground, and build relationships.   Scott said, “I am not a distributor or middle-man.  We don’t sit on any produce.  We just try to help connect them and then nurture the relationship for them to continue making those purchases on their own.”  

She explained the reason that is necessary is because most food service directors work with distributors who make it really easy to get whatever they want, whenever they want it, with a single phone call — though that produce may be trucked in from miles away or even brought in from other countries. Scott said, “It’s a bit of a foreign concept to have to call local farmers to find out what they have and wait for their delivery day, but it has been really successful, when we find a match that works for both the producer and the buyer.”

One of those successes is with Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH). Scott introduced SNMH Nutrition Services Director, Noel Slaughter to the farmers of Mountain Bounty Farm to find out what produce would be available in what season and what items would fit the hospital budget.  Slaughter then began incorporating those items into her menu planning. 

The relationship worked so well, Slaughter has expanded the local menu to include produce from Indian Springs Organic Farm, Sunset Ridge Fine Fruits and most recently added local free-range meat from Nevada County Free Range Beef. Scott said, “The hospital is serving locally grown, grass fed meat and I don’t think anyone really knows it.  It is a big deal.”

Sierra Harvest’s procurement program has grown significantly over the past year. Once focused exclusively on institutions such as schools and hospital food service, Scott now provides support for Restaurants, Caterers, Grocers, Senior Living Facilities and food pantries such as Interfaith Food Ministries and the Food Bank of Nevada County.

Scott began working with Interfaith Food Ministries in April of 2019 and since then they have purchased nearly 10,000 pounds of organic produce from local and regional farmers including butternut squash from Johansen Ranch and sweet potatoes from Mountain Bounty Farm. 

One of Sierra Harvest’s newest procurement partners is The Food Bank of Nevada County. Executive Director Nicole McNeely said the organization received funding from the California Department of Social Services (Cal Foods) to buy food within California.  She reached out to Sierra Harvest to help her match the needs of the Food Bank with local farms and is grateful for the help she has received.  She said, “It really feels like I have a comrade and we are working on this together.”  

The Food Bank’s December Holiday distribution included carrots, purple and green cabbage from Super Tuber Farm (grown within a few miles of the distribution center), as well as Pearson Family Farm persimmons, Johansen Ranch spaghetti squash and Meyer lemons. 

McNeely has arranged for tastings and education on how to prepare the local produce, so clients expand their food knowledge and options.

In just two months, the Food Bank has spent over $6,000 on 5,400 pounds of local produce.  Scott said, “That is making a meaningful impact on local farmers.” She credits McNeely with “doing a really good job balancing wanting to support local farmers and making sure she is using funds prudently – stretching the Food Bank dollars to get the most for her clientele.” 

Scott added, “While the program doesn’t completely replace regular food distribution, it is a way to support local farmers, and offer customers the freshest produce possible in addition to whatever the businesses are serving. It is about building new habits for the buyers and helps build markets for local farms.”

McNeely said, “It is important to pass on to the families the experience of eating a carrot that is grown right down the road.  It’s important for the clients to be connected to their local food sources and farmers.  From a nutritional perspective, being able to offer food that is grown without pesticides is really a great offering we are able to give.”  She also emphasized the importance of giving the many children they reach an understanding of how food grows and the nutritional value of the food they are eating. 

 “This is food that is grown here.  You can grow this.  You can produce your own food by growing something like this,” McNeely added.  “It’s an education piece.  It’s an economic piece.  It’s a really exciting thing we are glad to be a part of.”

food bank delivery 2019 - johansen ranch

Our Hero Harvest Leaders

largest glean 2019 johnasen ranch - butternut squash - gold country gleanersMerriam-Webster defines gleaning as an intransitive verb, “to gather grain or other produce left by reapers.” Sierra Harvest defines gleaners as “heroes.”

In just two seasons, our gleaning volunteer Harvest Leaders and volunteers have harvested over 32,587 pounds of fresh produce that in turn was donated to Interfaith Food Ministries (IFM) to aid over 8,000 clients in their food security.

Clif, volunteer harvest leader 2018
Clif Mackinlay, volunteer Harvest Leader

One of the eight volunteer Harvest Leaders includes Clif Mackinlay, who says he began gleaning independently decades ago while living in the Bay area and quickly became involved in harvesting produce after moving to Nevada County. The Sierra Harvest program helps him contribute to the community while reducing food waste. “I thought, I could do some public good. There are a lot of people who love good fruit and I know the land can be so productive in this area, so I started doing it and just kept going.” Clif added he had lots of contacts who would call him, or he would reach out to them and once harvest season begins, he gets busy.

Clif said in addition to the satisfaction of helping others, he enjoys being out in nature. “I like the physical activity, but I get into a fruit tree and plan out how I am going to pick it and then my mind focuses on doing that. It’s very quiet out there. I am out in nature. Just like a fisherman gets his high, I get the high of picking fruit trees. I complete the task the best I can. It’s not about getting every piece of fruit, but it’s fulfilling the agreement.”

Fellow Harvest Leader, Tina Hannon, was involved in a gleaning group in Sonoma County and after moving here three years ago looked for another group to work with. She says she is motivated to glean because she does not like waste. “I do it because it’s a value for me to do what I can to avoid waste and food waste to me… if I can do anything to prevent it, I will. There is just so much. Once you have had the experience of gleaning, you get a whole appreciation of how much a tree will produce; how far that can go to feed people and the breakdown just seemed to be with connecting the people who have the trees in their backyard to the people who need the fruit.”

laurie michel and tina hannon - volunteer harvest leaders 2019 gleaning season
(L to R) Laurie Michel and Tina Hannon – volunteer Harvest Leaders 2019 gleaning season

She said she appreciates Sierra Harvests infrastructure and organization. Hosts, or tree owners, contact Sierra Harvest who send an email to the volunteer Harvest Leader who then to set up a day and time that works for the homeowner. The Harvest Leader may drive by to determine access, how much there is and how many volunteers are needed. Once the produce is collected, the team weighs and records the load and delivers it directly to the IFM refrigerators for distribution.

Phil Alonso has been Executive Director at Interfaith Food Ministry for just two years. He says when he was approached by Sierra Harvest about the gleaning program, it was easy to say yes. “It was a natural fit. It is a great benefit to our clients.” He added, “Sierra Harvest makes it very easy and did not add to the workload.” IFM is a food pantry, distributing food to clients three times a week. With the produce donated by Sierra Harvest they can supplement nonperishable food with fresh fruits and vegetables. “A lot of our clients are requesting education about how to use the produce so in addition to access, they are learning how to eat new foods and getting information on them.”

nicole stevenson - volunteer harvest leader 2019
Nicole Stevenson – volunteer Harvest Leader 2019

Laurie Michel, another Harvest Leader said the rewards, like the produce, are plentiful. “I love volunteering for Sierra Harvest as a Harvest Leader. I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and visit different beautiful orchards and properties in our area, all while giving back to my community. Being a part of this wonderful group, with so much support from Sierra Harvest, and seeing how it directly impacts the lives of the clients of Inter Faith Food Ministry has been so rewarding.”
Hannon added, “It’s great and so much fun. We need more Harvest Leader. Nevada County has a short growing season, and everything gets ripe at once. Please accept our regret if we didn’t get to you, it’s not from a lack of interest but from a lack of bodies, and we hope to do better next year!

Sierra Harvest is extremely grateful to all of the following 2019 volunteer Harvest Leaders for their commitment of time, passion to reduce food waste and increase fresh food access to IFM clients: Matia Divitt, Hiroko Greenberg, Lisa Haden, Tina Hannon, Clif Mackinlay, Laurie Michel, Anna Mudd and Nicole Stevenson.

More information about the gleaning program, to sign up as a volunteer gleaner, register to have your fruit gleaned or become a Harvest Leader in 2020 go to: http://www.sierraharvest.org/gleaning/

Hiroko Greenberg (far left) volunteer Harvest Leader 2019
Matia Divitt (L) and Anna Mudd (far right), volunteer Harvest Leaders 2019

 

 

 

 

 

(L to R) volunteer Harvest Leaders, Laurie Michel and Lisa Haden, gleaning host, Tom Martella

Kalita’s Favorite Crop to Grow? Farmers

farm crew 2018
Kalita Todd and Farm Crew 2017 participants learn about greenhouse management with Robbie Martin at Sweet Roots Farm.

After almost 3 years spent building a program to grow and support farmers in Nevada County, Kalita Todd, Sierra Harvest’s Education Coordinator, is transitioning to focus on her work as a health practitioner.  Kalita has worked as an organic farmer, educator, activist and change-maker for over 40 years.  From the founding of EcoFarm and the Hoes Down Harvest Festival to starting one of the first school gardens in Nevada County, Kalita has made a deep and lasting impact on the good food movement. 

When asked what her favorite crop to grow is, Kalita always responds, “Farmers!”   While working with Sierra Harvest, Kalita created and implemented the Farm Crew program, recruiting beginning farmers and connecting them with jobs on mentor farms in Nevada County.   She supported host farms and employees to have positive, productive relationships.  With Kalita’s facilitation, Farm Crew members set and accomplished learning targets while working on host farms, making the most of their early experiences in agriculture.

An enormous component of the Farm Crew program is the Ag Skills course.  Curated by Kalita, Ag Skills highlights innovative and successful farming practices in Nevada County and gives aspiring farmers a jump-start into agriculture.  During Kalita’s tenure, over 100 beginning farmers attended Ag Skills classes, representing over 1000 hours of direct education.

A beginning farmer who participated in the Farm Crew program said this about her experience in the Farm Crew program:

 “Joining Farm Crew has been a joyful and impactful chapter in my life where I was given the opportunity to dig deeper into sustainable agriculture, my local farming community and my personal relationship to the earth. I was given the information, tricks and tools to expand my knowledge base about market farming. My vision for what is possible has expanded! Now I have the skills, confidence and support to continue farming.”

In addition to her deep and lasting work in the organic food movement, Kalita is also a skilled and experienced healer.  An ordained Priestess of Isis, Spiritual Counselor, Hypnotherapist, and practitioner of Alchemical Healing for 25 years, Kalita has great skill in opening the path into the magic, mystery, and practical contemporary uses of ancient healing arts.  We look forward to celebrating and collaborating with Kalita as she focuses on this work.

Thank you Kalita, for all you have done to grow farmers in our community!  We will miss your joyful and capable presence at Sierra Harvest.

Thank you, Farmer Bri!

After serving five years in various roles at the Food Love Farm, Brianna Abundiz will be moving on to new endeavors in local agriculture that will continue to motivate people to enjoy fresh, seasonal foods.  Farmer Bri was first inspired to get her hands dirty when she accompanied her son on a farm field trip at Dinner Bell Farm in 2014.  She joined the Food Love Farm crew as an intern in the spring of 2015 and then added a role as a Farm to School Liaison that fall.  Continuing to develop both her farming and teaching skills, she became a Farm Educator at the Food Love Farm in the spring of 2016, where she has spent 4 seasons leading field trips, selling produce at weekly U-Picks, and cooking with kids at summer camps.  Brianna says that her favorite part of her role at the Food Love Farm has been meeting and building a relationship with her community.  Brianna is responsible for implementing a robust garden program at Lyman Gilmore school and she has introduced hundreds of kids to the joys of growing food.  Brianna’s goal for the future is to continue to inspire future farmers and kids!  Sierra Harvest and our community thank Farmer Bri for all of the time, energy, and love she has put into her many roles and we look forward to her future accomplishments in the local food movement! 

Eat Well, Learn Better

Dre Maher at Nevada City School of the Arts new  Food Services DirectorNourish NCSA, the Nevada City School of the Art’s (NCSA) new scratch cooked school meals program kicked off this year with the motto, “Eat well, learn better.”  Dre Maher is the Food Service Coordinator who manages to feed 200 students each day of the school year with fresh, locally grown food.

While Dre was hired at NCSA last April, it took a while to get the kitchen certified and ready for the lunch program which went live this year.  She said, “Everything is from scratch everyday which is pretty unique in the school food service industry.  Every morning I do all of the cooking and then I have an assistant who comes in and helps me pack and wash everything at the end of the day.”

Maher has a lifelong love of making fresh, healthy meals and worked at a food co-op in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  In 2000, she lost a loved one to cancer.  “That had a big impact on me,” Maher said.  “I decided I wanted to be a chef but with a focus on whole food and nutrition.”  That decision took her to the Natural Gourmet Cooking Institute in New York City where she graduated before returning to Albuquerque to start a family. 

There, she started her business as a caterer and as a personal chef teaching people how to shop and cook fresh meals.  Along the way she also became a farmer, learning more about how to grow her own food.  Her husband was hired to run the Briarpatch Food Co-op which brought her to Nevada County. 

Maher was introduced to Sierra Harvest working as a farm to school liaison, which lead her to the role she has today.  She said she was doing tastings of fresh produce items once a month with area students and then started doing tasting days as one of the chefs.  “That was great,” Maher said.  “The kids here have known me for the past seven years as someone who is going to try to get them to try new things.” 

Maher said she has relationships with a dozen local farms.  “Every carrot these kids have ever eaten here is from Super Tuber Farm.  Our food waste goes to feed pigs at Cosmic Roots Ranch where we buy our bacon, so it comes back around.”  She plans a four-week menu cycle and can change ingredients in the dish based on what is available and is at the Farmer’s Market weekly.

Sierra Harvest has built a culture of why it is important to eat fresh and teaches kids fun facts about produce and introducing them to new foods.  As the Nourish NCSA program got underway, Sierra Harvest offered Maher a tremendous amount of support in helping her find great values from local farms and helping her with proper reporting for reimbursements. 

Maher said even the so called “picky eater” will try what she offers.  “Maybe it’s peer pressure or maybe it’s because they have never had it fresh before or never had it prepared a certain way before, but they will taste it a few times and usually like it.”  She said she receives a lot of “thank you’” from students and has received notes from parents saying the lunch may be the most nutritious meal their child will eat all day.

The program also ties nicely with NCSA’s curriculum, including watershed studies and trips to the Yuba River to study the salmon runs.  Maher said, “This is why it matters.  The kids will understand the connection and why we farm this way.   Hopefully, these kids will grow up and value these choices as adults.” 

With a lead-in from Sierra Harvest, Nourish NCSA is making an impact on future generations, 200 kids at a time. 

Garden Cart Inspires Kids to Love Local Veggies

kids enjoying the farm cart at bell hill school 2019Imagine recess on a typical elementary school day, and you will likely picture kids making a beeline to the playground to vie for their favorite swing, slide, or tetherball. Not so on Tuesday mornings this Fall at Bell Hill Academy. Instead students eagerly lined up to select a vegetable from the Sierra Harvest garden cart. At times the line was more than 20 students long, yet they stood patiently- sometimes on tiptoes or craning their necks to see what was available and what they might choose from the selection of peppers, tomatoes, ground cherries, greens, and more.

One second grader picked a shishito pepper and insisted he would love the heat as he took his first bite.

A third grader exclaimed “I’m eating a pickle without a jar!” as she waved around the pickling cucumber she’d picked as a perfect snack.

The veggies were provided through a partnership with Starbright Acres Family Farm, a 3-acre local family farm just 2.5 miles from Bell Hill. In addition, two classes each year take a field trip out to Starbright Acres to see first-hand where their food is coming from. These activities combine with other elements of Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program with a goal to educate, inspire, and connect Nevada County students to fresh, local, seasonal food.

Recess is over but that doesn’t stop a few remaining students from lingering around the cart hoping to grab one last veggie before heading back to class. A parent visiting campus marvels at the selection of veggies her son has just enjoyed. Tomorrow recess will be back to the regular routine, but hopefully the fun of the garden cart today has sparked more kids to enjoy and seek out healthy, local food.

lauren valentino handing out veggies at the farm cart at bell hill school 2019

Vital Garden Supply a Strong Sierra Harvest Supporter

brian and pedma malin of vital - supporters of Sierra HarvestFor 14 years, Vital Garden Supply has been providing organic farm, garden, and landscaping products in Nevada County and beyond.   With a passion for the organic agriculture as well as a desire to have high quality food available to everyone, the company is also a long-time supporter of Sierra Harvest.

Brian Malin and his wife, Pedma, started the family business and are proud to support Sierra Harvest and appreciative of everything they do.  “Kids can learn at a young age the importance of high-quality food and about growing your own food as well.” Malin said.   With two kids who have gone through the Nevada County school system it was easy to offer support to help with the mission of Sierra Harvest and they have done so since the early days of the nonprofit.   “We are just proud to be part of Sierra Harvest,” Malin continued.  “I was at Food Love educational farm with my son’s class when they were just getting started.  We donated a compost tea brewer, I gave a talk to the kids, and I worked with farmers who were there at the time.  My son just turned 21, so it has been quite a while.” 

By supplying organic soil, fertilizer and amendments, Vital Garden Supply is part of the team that helps keep local gardens thriving.

Back in 2006, the desire for high-quality, organic products was on the rise.  Malin and his family were not satisfied with what products were available to farmers and gardeners, so they began making their own — manufacturing approximately 20 unique products and then opening a retail location in Nevada City.

In addition to offering organic inputs, Vital Garden Supply has a knowledgeable staff with plenty of gardening experience to help even the novice gardener get off to the right start.  Malin said the best reward is seeing other farmers’ success after using Vital Garden Supply products.

Pedma also serves as an ambassador with Sierra Harvest.  They are an active part of the organization and believe strongly in the mission.  Malin added he is proud to be part of a local nonprofit that educates people about organic and high-quality food and growing your own.  “I think that is really important in our modern society with all of this tech stuff going on, it’s good to have kids connect with where their food comes from and teach them a little bit about how to do it themselves.”

Now located in Ukiah and Wheatland as well as Nevada City, they sell to over 250 stores.  They carry soil and amendments, inoculants and teas, fertilizers, pest controls, green houses, and even apparel.  Their expert staff is happy to help prescribe the right mix for each unique situation and location. 

Their commitment to Sierra Harvest is just one of the many ways they are helping people grow safe, healthy food.  Thank you to the three generations of the Malin family that now make up Vital Garden Supply.  With their help, we can feel confident our future is in good hands.  

 

 

Sierra Harvest Board Welcomes Three New Faces

Anyone who works in the world of nonprofit will tell you there is nothing more essential than a strong Board of Directors.  At Sierra Harvest we are extremely proud of the group of talented and resourceful community leaders who steer our business.  We are excited to welcome three new members to our team — each bringing their unique history and talent to help move Sierra Harvest forward with our mission.

shari elia - sierra harvest board member 2019Shari Elia is relatively new to Nevada County, having moved here about four years ago.  Having a personal passion for eating healthy and living healthy and for sharing the knowledge she has gained in helping others do the same, Sierra Harvest seemed to be a good place to put her energy in giving back to the community.   In addition, she said, “Sierra Harvest is well and widely known among nonprofits as an extremely well-run organization and board.”  As this is her first time serving on a nonprofit board, she wanted to be sure she started out with a strong organization so she could learn to be an effective board member from the best.  Elia brings her experiences from an extensive career in high tech and sales to the organization.  Energizing teams around the vision is one of her many strengths and her experience in the execution of steps to complete projects is part of what she hopes to bring to the board.  Elia added she is so impressed with the mission and the people who work for the organization and excited to be part of it.

roger ingram - sierra harvest board member 2019Roger Ingram has lived in Nevada County since 1986.  He retired from the UC Cooperative Extension Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor and County Director for Placer and Nevada Counties in 2017 but has been actively involved in the agricultural community for decades.  He currently runs sheep with a partner and has moved from helping in an ex officio manner among the many agriculturally based nonprofits, to sitting on the Sierra Harvest Board of Directors.   Ingram’s history with the group goes back to the earliest days (before there was a Sierra Harvest) to when Aimee Retzler needed some financial help rehabilitating the school garden at what was then Hennessey School.  His work kept him involved with training beginning farmers and ranchers and he has spoken at Sierra Harvest’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference.  He is looking forward to providing his experience within the agricultural community to give some input into Sierra Harvest as it looks for answers to some big questions around growth and scale.  Ingram said, “There are lots of exciting programs going on and I am excited to be part of the board.” 

laura barhydt - sierra harvest board memberLaura Barhydt proudly sits as the matriarch of three generations of her Nevada County family.  The Barhydt have raised beef cattle for decades and currently run the McCourtney Road Pumpkin Patch.  Laura said she has long admired Sierra Harvest and jumped at the chance to be part of an “organization that does such good work.”  She said she sees the difference Sierra Harvest is making, especially seeing children actually eating vegetables!  Her hope is to see Sierra Harvest and other agricultural groups working more closely together to find ways to keep agriculture alive in Nevada County.  Her connections to some of those other agencies will be helpful in making that happen.  She also hopes to introduce Sierra Harvest to more farmers and groups in the South County.   All along she has been very involved in getting healthy food to schools, so Sierra Harvest seems to be a perfect fit.  A retired educator, her experience brings a welcome, vast skillset to the board of directors.

Get a Headstart with a Garden

sierra college day care center children feed their dinasours fresh greens 2019
Feeding their dinosaurs some fresh greens!

Gardening made so easy, a toddler can do it.  That is a realized goal after the Sierra Gardens Program was introduced to the Child Development Center at Sierra College.  Site Supervisor, Katie Foss said, the state-run pre-school and early Head Start program currently cares for 44 children from ages 18 months to 4 years old in their toddler and pre-school program.  It was a parent of one of those toddlers who told her about the Sierra Harvest Garden Program.  “She said, you should sign up and get beds put in the toddler yard,” Foss explained.  “So I thought that sounded really cool and inquired about it.” 

Foss said the process was simple.  After filling out the initial paperwork, she was contacted by the Sierra Harvest Garden Coordinator, Edy Cassell, to determine the space, cost, and need, and then to schedule a time for the team to come out and build the beds.  “They brought tools and the wood and built the beds in the yard, “Foss said.  “We were inside so the kids could watch from the windows.  Once the soil was delivered, the kids were able to scoop it into the beds.”   Foss said Sierra Harvest supplies organic, locally grown starts and seeds for two years based on the season.  “The team from Sierra Harvest showed the kids how to put the starts in the soil and let the kids take turns planting.  The kids water the plants and the teachers fill in.”  She added the kids love taking on the responsibility of caring for the garden at the school.

She added, “The kids love to use water cans and buckets to keep the soil wet – even some of the toddlers are interested in helping.  We have been able to explain how the garden works and once the vegetables are ready to harvest, we let the kids pick what they want.  They especially love picking the little tomatoes.”

Supplying the children with fresh produce and introducing them to gardening are just a couple of the benefits of the program.  “We used the produce in our cooking projects in the classroom and it lets the kids try new things.”  Foss continued, “When they see that they can come up and choose something to try, even if they don’t like it the first time, they watch their peers.   When a child sees everyone else is eating something, we notice they are more apt to try it themselves.   Sometimes they will feed each other.”

Foss said, “We are very grateful for the Sierra Gardens program.  It gives the children another opportunity to try something new, especially something that is outside and has something to do with plants and nature.  We love that it is something new they are exposed to and can try, and they take pride in it.” 

Some parents have been inspired to plant a little garden at home, even if just in a window.  The Sierra  Gardens Program may have even planted the seed for a farmer of the future. 

Apply for a garden and get more information about the Sierra Garden program.

Volunteer Spotlight:  Dick Yates – Our Gleaning Website Rock Star!

Dick yates - volunteer gleaning website designer 2019While creating the new gleaning program at Sierra Harvest, we researched other group’s websites and discovered similarities between several of them because it turns out, they were designed by the same incredible volunteer – Dick Yates, who created the original site for Salem Harvest, the largest gleaning organization in Salem, Oregon.

We reached out to Dick to create a website-database system to improve the efficiency and continue the awesome work of the Gold Country Gleaning Program which rescues food that may have gone to waste and distributes it to those in need.   He more than willingly jumped in designing the system to meet our needs exactly, training our volunteer Harvest Leaders and providing technical support anytime…and all as a volunteer!

How long have you been gleaning and why did you start gleaning in your area? 

I have been gleaning with Salem Harvest since 2010. Salem Harvest began when four neighbors noticed backyard fruit trees with fruit going to waste and they organized a neighborhood project. Once a website was set up, the project grew quickly and now rescues 400,000 pounds of food in the Salem area every year.

Why did you create the Gleanweb site and what’s your background? Salem Harvest’s success was directly related to the efficiencies provided by the website. We thought that other gleaning organizations could also benefit and so I began offering to set up sites for them. I had no background in it and was interested in learning website and database design.  I then learned on my own from reference books and deconstructing existing websites.

What is a memorable experience as a Salem Harvest gleaner?

Salem Harvest invites volunteers to write thank you notes at gleans for the crop owners. One little girl wrote “Thanks for the delicious cherries. Because of you I won’t be hungry today.”

How many Gleanweb sites have you created and how much produce has been recorded as gleaned after you helped a variety of communities?

There are currently about 12 Gleanweb installations. Since 2010 they have rescued about 8.5 million pounds of food altogether – 2 million pounds just in 2018!

What do you enjoy most about being the Gleanweb designer?

Working with people from places all over the country (from Hawaii to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts) and being able to incorporate what they are doing into the software so that other organizations might benefit.

We are incredibly grateful to Dick for his exceptional volunteer support allowing us to increase our efficiencies in recruitment of volunteers, gleaning hosts, and managing data which ultimately yields in nourishing more Nevada County residents.

Sierra Harvest’s Gold Country Gleaning Program organizes volunteers to harvest fresh, seasonal produce that would otherwise go to waste and donates it to Interfaith Food Ministry which distributes to over 8,000 residents in need.  In its first season in 2018, volunteers gleaned more than 10,800 pounds of produce and we are on track to surpass that amount this year with the aid of the new website! Click here to sign up to be a gleaning volunteer, or a gleaning host.  If you are interested in getting trained to be a volunteer Harvest Leader, email miriam@sierraharvest.org today!