While citrus groves no longer dot the landscape, trees in backyards across Orange County, CA still yield an abundance of produce that sadly often goes to waste. But thanks to the efforts of the Harvest Club of Orange County, a volunteer-based organization that gleans fruit from neighborhood trees, much of this excess backyard bounty now goes to help feed the hungry.
The gleaning operation started informally in Huntington Beach.
“In 2009 a couple of friends had fruit trees they could not finish,” says Lindsey Harrison, coordinator of volunteers for the Harvest Club. “Others helped pick trees and donated extra fruit to the food bank.”
More and more neighbors got on board and as word spread, the organization began to grow and solidify. In 2011 the Harvest Club became a project of the Orange County Food Access Coalition (OCFAC). By this time Harvest Club’s coverage area had already expanded beyond its Huntington Beach roots, but the new association with OCFAC served to further boost its countywide presence.
Food equity is emerging as one of the most important social justice issues influencing the modern food system. It’s jarring that people throughout the United States are still unable to easily access healthy local produce when processed chips and soda can be bought at every corner store.
So Seedstock wanted to take the opportunity to recognize five organizations that are doing everything possible to get healthy, local produce in the hands of everyone who wants to eat well—no matter their location in a city.
1. Massachusetts Avenue Project & Growing Green
The Massachusetts Avenue Project & Growing Green’s (MAP) beginnings date all the way back to 1992. Although the Buffalo, New York organization’s start was modest—it was first classified as a “block club”—it is now a thriving nonprofit dedicated to growing food that nourishes while beautifying and bringing the neighborhood it resides in together. Although the organization has evolved over the years, it still aims to build food equity, while also engaging young people.
The relationship between manure and agriculture goes back almost as long as agriculture itself. Now it turns out that with a process known as anaerobic digestion, manure and other biodegradable materials may help farms and local governments recycle organic waste into several farm products, including electricity.
Anaerobic digestion is similar to the more familiar composting process, with one key difference. Composting depends on the presence of oxygen to create an environment for beneficial microorganisms that help break down organic matter like manure or food scraps.
Anaerobic digestion is different; by definition, it needs oxygen to be absent. It also works at lower temperatures, around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Former Trader Joe’s President Doug Rauch is turning the traditional grocery store model on its head with Daily Table, a new not-for-profit retail store that’s putting customers’ health and finances first.
The grocer’s first location opened in June of 2015 in Dorchester, Mass., and Daily Table Senior Director Fredi Shonkoff says the Boston-area community has warmly embraced the new store as a nutritious and cost-effective option.
The Intervale Center of Vermont, founded in 1988, has a long history of addressing food issues in the Burlington community. So when the University of Vermont Medical Center reached out to the Intervale Center to create a pilot program to provide farm fresh food acquired through food waste recovery to patients in its methadone clinic, the partnership was a natural one.
Treating those overcoming addiction requires a holistic approach, much like remediating food systems, says Travis Marcotte, Executive Director of the Intervale Center. As former users tackle the road to recovery, they might not have the resources to access healthy food. The clinic wanted to change this. Because many patients do better in treatment when provided with healthier food choices, the Intervale Center began delivering a weekly batch of fresh produce to the clinic’s waiting room, along with recipes and suggestions on how to prepare the vegetables.
Getting ready to put together those New Years’ resolutions? If eating more sustainably is among them, here’s a quick guide to get you started
1. Can, freeze and dehydrate all year.
Put up foods like berries and summery fruits and veggies throughout the year instead of buying them out of season. This way you can still cook with local foods even in the dead of winter. Save money by patronizing you-pick farms for berries and vegetables in the summer; apples, pears and pumpkins in the fall.
At a farm in Northport, Michigan livestock are feasting on a diversity of food scraps every day. One day it might be salad remnants and pizza crusts, another day it might be leftover soup.
That’s because a nearby public school has instituted a food recovery program in which all leftover food scraps are diverted to feed chickens and pigs at a local area farm. Food waste, or as local livestock farmer Laura Cavendish of Lord and Lady Farm calls it, “school food slop,” that once headed to a landfill is now recycled back into the food chain as animal feed.
A newly minted portable food waste digester hopes to revolutionize small-to-medium scale kitchen operations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The system, called HORSE (High-solids Organic-waste Recycling System with Electrical output), looks to fill demand for small, affordable food waste digester technology. Designed by Seattle-based company Impact Bioenergy for use in campuses, restaurants and municipalities, the system uses biomimicry to process food waste into natural gas that can be stored for 24 hours.
The HORSE system can produce hot water, heat and electricity, and comes equipped with three kinds of odor control in the form of a biofilter, charcoal filter and an atomizing misting system. It also contains extra controls for fire pits and barbecues. According to Jan Allen, President of Impact Bioenergy, great effort was taken to make HORSE compatible with an urban environment. The unit boasts exterior lighting and a pleasing facade.