Global Problems: Local Solutions

Carolyn Mackinlay and William Edwards (homeowner) gleaning 2018
Carolyn Mackinlay and homeowner William Edwards gleaning, 2018

Gold Country Gleaners donate excess food to the Interfaith Food Ministry

Did you know that 40 percent of food produced in United States goes to waste?  Annually, 160 billion dollars-worth of produce goes uneaten.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, wasted food is also the single biggest occupant in American landfills.  Meanwhile, 1 in 6 Americans are considered “food insecure.”

While these figures are staggering, there are actions being taken in our local community around these very issues.  Enter the Gold Country Gleaners.   Since 2011, more than 100 volunteers have gleaned (the act of harvesting produce that would otherwise be wasted) thousands of pounds of produce from more than 75 backyards and farms.  As of this year, Sierra Harvest is continuing the legacy of this volunteer program by expanding its reach, bringing healthy produce to thousands of Nevada County residents in need by working directly with Interfaith Food Ministry (IFM).  IFM’s mission is to work to feed the hungry and reduce food insecurity in Nevada County.  In 2017 IFM served about 8,000 unique individuals a quarter of which are children.

Phil Alonso, Executive Director of IFM says; “With more produce, contributing to a healthy diet, there is a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The healthier food a child eats the more they can concentrate on school. The healthier an adult eats the less they spend on medical intervention, which allows them to spend their money on rent, gas, clothes and other necessary expenses. Our partnership with Sierra Harvest reflects how local collaboration helps everyone. Our community is a better place when people are healthy and happy.”

The gleaners are currently working on these issues in a few ways- by getting unsold produce from local farmers at the end of the Nevada City Farmer’s Markets, and by harvesting on homesteads and farms that have excess to share. Already this August over 1,000 pounds of produce has been donated to IFM!  Six passionate volunteer Harvest Leaders lead each days gleaning volunteers and deliver the products directly to IFM to be stored in their cooler – fresh and ready for consumption!

Homeowner Kathleen Parsons who had more than 119 pounds of apples and plums gleaned recently says that “Sierra Harvest exceeded any and all expectations I had when calling to have the excess fruit gleaned. They were promptly responsive and arrived on time, super polite, friendly and went the extra mile and cleaned up all the fruit that had already fallen and disposed of it in my compost pile.  I was left with a tidy yard and a feeling of gratitude that I was helping get food to those in need without doing more than reaching out to the absolute right people.”

And as the fall season approaches, there will be even more abundance to share!  Do you have at least 25 pounds of fruit on your trees that need to be picked?  Call the Sierra Harvest Gold Country Gleaners today to schedule a glean! More details here and to sign up.

Elizabeth gleaning apples, 2018
Elizabeth gleaning apples, 2018