June 28, 2010

Glean for the City IN the city

Last year, BFC’s Glean for the City program sought to rescue tons of fresh produce for our food pantry. It all started with countless cold calls to farmers and markets. The end result was 50,000 lbs of free, fresh produce for our clients (not to mention a grant for $20,000). In 2010, Glean for the City is getting bigger and better, with more farms, more volunteers, and new innovations. Over the next harvest season we will expand both the volume and distribution of produce to our clients in both centers. And while we take steps to expand the gleaning project, client involvement remains a constant aspiration.

Common Good City Farm (CGCF), a small urban farm, located less than a mile from Bread for the City's NW center, is providing our first opportunity to glean WITH clients! This Wednesday, June 30th, BFC clients will hit the fields of CGCF to collect produce for our pantry. It will be more than just picking veggies for themselves. These clients are taking an opportunity to give back to BFC. After signing up for the glean, one food client remarked, “This sounds wonderful! I’m going to bring my kids. It’s important to give back. BFC has done so much for us, I want to do what I can for them.”

Education will be the driving force of this gleaning event - we want our clients to see a truly local food source and be a part of the discussion about the food landscape in DC. Bread for the City staff will lead a discussion centered around gleaning, food access, community gardening, and healthy nutrition. After this discussion, we will head to CGCF to get a tour, do some work, and continue the conversation. At CGCF, Spencer, the farm manager, will tell us about the history of CGCF, why and how they help DC residents with access to produce and gardening know-how, and how to get involved. We want clients to walk away with the understanding that this farm is their farm, it is part of their community. As such, they can utilize community gardens (or even their own gardens, if possible) to level the food access playing field, while at the same time contributing to their community.

In my time at BFC, I’ve found most every client is eager to give back to Bread for the City. Gleaning is the perfect opportunity. As the program expands this harvest season, clients will be given several chances, the first being at Common Good City Farm on Wednesday. Beyond this, I am recruiting client volunteers to glean farmers markets over the summer. In the future, I envision a rustic drive to an area farm, with a van full of clients eager to glean produce for our food pantry. We help them. They help us. It's people helping people, helping people.

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