Los Angeles Gleans

Each week, yard-waste trucks rumble through my Northern California neighborhood, swooping up the grass clippings and tree brush we residents pile by the curb.

Often, these piles include excess citrus from overburdened limbs.  Pruning is an important part of gardening, so sometimes, for the health of the tree, or to keep its size in check, the fruit-laden branches must be trimmed.  Low-hanging often falls and spoils, too, and attracts bugs, so these fruits may get dumped as well.

Further south, in Los Angeles, surplus and low-hanging fruits don’t go to waste.  Residents with fruit trees have a powerful, creative partner in Rick Nahmias, who created the grassroots project Food Forward.  Nahmias was inspired to pair an army of enthusiastic, eco-conscious volunteers with residents whose trees overflowed.  These pickers “glean” the abundant fruit and deliver 100 percent of this fresh, nutrient-rich fare to local food banks, where it feeds the hungry. 

This program realizes a quadruple benefit: 1) it assists residents who don’t want their fruit to fall, rot, and go to waste; 2) it assists volunteers by giving them a concrete means to do good, while enjoying the outdoors;  3) it creates a powerful sense of community; and, most important, 4) it provides healthful, fresh food for the hungry.

To learn more, visit Food Forward online.  A documentary is also in the works, and if the clip I just saw is any indication, it will be a powerful and inspiring film.



Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.





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