People of the village, it’s time to harvest.
What was previously known as The Gleaning Project has collaborated with Village Harvest Davis to create a communitywide group of food-picking volunteers.
Village Harvest is a non-profit based in northern California whose volunteers glean or pick fruit and vegetables from the yards of people unable to harvest for themselves. They then donate a portion of the food to local food banks.
“Last year we were a couple students interested in organizing some citrus gleans,” said Maggie Lickter, co-organizer of The Gleaning Project. “This year we are working with Village Harvest, a group that shares the students’ vision of harvesting excess food.”
The Davis chapter was started in March 2009 by Joe and Linda Schwartz and Pam and Gregg Gibbs. They collaborated with The Gleaning Project shortly after that. This is the first academic year where both are working under the same name.
“Being able to tap into [their] experience is very important to us since we saw no reason to reinvent the wheel,” Lickter said in an e-mail interview. “After meeting with them and discussing our goals and ideology, we decided to work with them in strengthening and maintaining Village Harvest and broadening their student involvement.”
So far, Village Harvest has been reaching students through such means as booths in the dining commons to speaking in classes. Junior Kelsey Easterly was one such recruit.
“I first heard about the gleaning project through a friend who made an announcement to my Nature and Culture class,” Easterly said in an e-mail.
“Apple harvesting has been my only event so far…It was such a neat experience to go out in the orchard, get a little dirty, but feel like you’re doing something tangible and meaningful.”
Others like Lauren Cockrell, a first-year sustainable agriculture major, felt similarly.
“I really like the idea of gleaning because the food doesn’t go to waste,” Cockrell said. “I did a pomegranate harvest at someone’s house [where] we harvested 200 lbs of pomegranates off just two trees. I recommend anyone who likes fresh food to just come out.”
If the food itself is not incentive to join, Lickter said, harvest events are good for socializing.
“All different folks are invited to glean. This is one of my favorite parts of this organization,” Lickter said. “While harvesting extra fruits that will be given to those in need, we also get the chance to break out of our “school bubble” and enjoy the company of all sorts of great people.”
The social impact is not just restricted to students, said Linda Schwartz.
“It’s nice to have an age mixture and a diverse group [at harvesting events]. We have people bringing their children and grandchildren and we have people who are retired,” Schwartz said. “It’s really good to have a college mix with that.”
However, group members said they are hoping for a greater increase in participation as the seasons change.
“We still need more dedicated volunteers,” Lickter said. “Especially when citrus season hits in several months, we’ll be looking for groups of people who we can train to harvest independently.”
Lickter emphasized the importance of those who need access to fruit and veggies.
“We also continue to seek fruit. All over the country, even in cities that are relatively well off like Davis, there are individuals and families who really need access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
BECKY PETERSON can be reached at email@example.com.