Re: land options
I work for a nonprofit organization in Richmond, BC(Canada). Just to give
you some background: We are a nonprofit organization that finds
people/farms that have surplus fruit and vegetables and matches them with
volunteers who have the time and energy to harvest it. All of the produce
goes to the food bank and community kitchens. This year we have harvested
over 17,000 lbs.
Not to put a horrible damper on things, but your gleaning project looks
quite successful and is providing a *very* needed service. Personally, my
advice would be to put your efforts into maintaining volunteers and signing
up more growers to your project -- support your local growers by letting
them what they do best and give the food they grow, but can't sell a must
Most growers WANT to donate food they can't sell because they hate to see
it go to waste, but all their energy is poured keeping the farm
going. There are several international societies involved in gleaning (the
St. Andrew Society is the one I know the most about, although Chester
County, PA has a huge secular emphasis on gleaning and USDA has some nice
pieces of advice on their website -- I can't think the Canadian government
has anything less as they regularly seem to do better than USDA.) that you
might want to join if you feel your project lacks "stature" or you need
help getting your message out.
We have a vision for next year of attaining our own land to grow food for
the food bank. Ideally we would like to see us growing the 100,000 lbs of
produce that the food bank distributes each year so the food bank no
longer needs to buy it(part of this would consist of a small orchard, we
would like 1-5 acres).
I think, and I am speaking as a small grower myself, that you are stark
raving mad and that unless your name is Jim Call (I really don't know how
he does it!), you are biting off WAY more work (and need for vast amounts
of funding) than any group of volunteers can be reasonably expected to do.
Getting people out to harvest is FUN. Getting people to irrigate during a
drought or to weed after the rains hit ON A REGULAR BASIS is
near-impossible. And, if you ain't going to do it with volunteers, you're
going to have to pay a grower. And that requires serious funds.
So I have a few questions, does anyone know of any similar projects that
we may want to gain some advice from?
I am quite serious. There are a number of very reputable gleaning
organizations. Work with your strengths, get some advice from these
organizations (they have youth programs also!) and if your primary goal is
to provide food for the food bank, GO WITH WHAT IS WORKING FOR YOU!
Also we are thinking that we will have a small farmers market to help
Join the Market Farming list and read the archives
>Get the list FAQ at: http://www.marketfarming.net/mflistfaq.htm
and use the farm/market as a training and educational site for youth/low
All the research mentioned on this list (available on the archives) has
shown that this projects are NOT self-sustaining and require steady
influxes of outside cash. They can be noble and valuable training tools,
but they DO NOT make a profit.
The city h! as also approached us to act as stewards for their community
gardens. We would like to see this happen, if people in the gardens grow a
small portion for the food bank, is this unrealistic?
Good heavens, no. Our community garden has required the Biblical Tithe
(10% of your harvest) to folks in need since it started in 1991 and as a
result, we are the primary source of in-season fresh produce at our local
food bank (the Chester County gleaning stuff goes to West Chester and
Coatsville because they have hungry people, but don't have us! ;-)) Most
people LOVE having an outlet for their produce so that they can have all
the fun of growing it, feeding their family and NOT having to can tomatoes
in August. Go for it! Ask for a small contribution (10% is Biblical),
have the food bank state what they really want (ours has a standing order
for as many tomatoes as folks can haul in there) and then let folks donate
what they want. The folks who live to grow will donate 75% and those just
learning will be incredibly proud of the 10% they manage to eek out of the
soil in their first tries. Much more reasonable than *trying to grow it
We are also trying to find the best way of attaining the land. Leasing?
I think having your own land and growing your own food for the food bank is
beyond wishful if you don't have some very serious funding in hand.
Any suggestions or contacts would be welcome Thanks!
My e-mail is above -- anyone who want to flame me is free to do so! ;-D I
am just especially grumpy after getting 4 inches of rain for the month of
October after dealing with NOTHING for July and August. Weeds, I
got. Fall crops? What fall crops? :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P
:-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P
Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden
A mission of
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460
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