03 September 2008

Gleaning Fruit for the People

Yesterday’s Times-Standard had an article that made me think: Finally!

It’s a simple story about a woman who has the local food bank send in a volunteer gleaner to harvest the abundance of apples on her trees so that the fruit can go to people who need food.

Years ago, when I lived in San Rafael (Marin County, California), I would walk around my extended neighborhood and wonder at the plethora of produce wasting away on people’s unharvested trees. So much food! Apples, plums, figs, pomegranates, lemons, pears … why wasn’t anyone harvesting this? It seemed to me that there must be a way to have the fruit picked and distributed to those who were hungry. But no, I guess people were too concerned about their liability to have anyone come in and pick the trees clean.

Ah, but this is Humboldt County, not Marin. Not only does our local Food for People provide volunteer gleaners, it is part of the national Plant a Row for the Hungry program. As explained in the Times-Standard article, “Gardeners are asked to plant an extra row of food and donate it to Food for People, the food bank for Humboldt County. The purpose of the program is to ensure that everyone has access to the healthiest food choices available.”

Back in those Marin County days, times got tight. There was a period when my partner and I found ourselves needing the help of the local services. The saying “beggars can’t be choosers” was right on; the contents of the grocery bags we received were far from the healthy foods we tried our best to eat. Fresh organic produce? In our dreams. So I’m particularly pleased that programs exist to bring those apples (and whatever else folks plant or can’t keep up with themselves) to people needing help with groceries.

And who knows, with a bit of luck (and a lot more sweat), my garden may start producing enough to share with others! I’m excited – I got a worm bin for my birthday! And, I discovered yesterday, bats have finally moved into the bat house. So we’ve put a tray below their abode to catch their guano. Worm castings and bat guano – exciting shit.

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