Saturday, November 10, 2012

Harvesting Goodwill

Harvest Club of Orange County 
1505 E. 17th Street, Suite 219 
Santa Ana, CA 92705 
Five Scoops of Bosco

By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

Recently, I had a little dilemma on hands.

I am one of those people in Southern California who have fruit trees in the backyard and for whatever reason I seemed to have a bumper crop of produce this year.

It was too much fruit for one family.

I hate seeing good food go to waste, but do you do with the excess?

This is when a friend of mine told me about a wonderful organization that will actually come out to your home to pick the fruit and vegetables from your garden and redistribute to needy families in Orange County.

The Harvest Club began in the greater Huntington Beach area of Orange County, and is now building harvesting teams throughout the county to harvest the incredible bounty of the community to nourish the hungry.

So far to date the club has harvested close to 24,500 pounds of fruit and vegetables and redistributed to the needy.

The mission and concept of the club is simple. Feed those in need and build community by sharing surplus fresh fruits and vegetables from the backyards of Orange County.

The objective of the club is to bring neighbors together, provide nutritious foods for the hungry, promote sustainable uses of urban resources and encourage home food production and minimize food waste and just do good and have fun while at it.

Founder Jeff Lebow got the idea for the harvest club on a day in the fall of 2008 when he spent six hours harvesting Fuyu persimmons from his tree to donate to a charitable group.

He thought that getting a group of people together would be fun and would make the harvest go more quickly. He talked to his friend Lynda Hernandez, and the Harvest Club was born.

They now have about 25 harvesters and are looking for more.

At a recent harvest, about a half-dozen people plucked and boxed oranges while surrounded by the rich, sweet smell of an orange tree.

One of the volunteers climbed high into the tree to get to the fruit, while four others used fruit-picking tools.

One of the 9 year old sons of a volunteer helped box the fruit.

One of the things that Lebow pointed out was that as fruit trees mature, so do the homeowners. Often a tree will be at prime productivity when a homeowner’s ability to harvest the fruit is declining. Or maybe the tree just produces far more fruit than the homeowner can use.

That’s where the Harvest Club comes in.

They will pick the fruit from the top of the tree, leaving the low-hanging fruit for the homeowner. Homeowners get a tax credit for their donation.

While the Harvest Club is not a 501(c)3 organization, it will bring or mail back a receipt to the homeowner from the charitable organization to which the fruit was donated.

Eventually the goal of the club is to build a network of harvesting teams and productive growing spaces in Orange County that contribute to a sustainable, local food system through food banks that provides access to healthy food to all Orange County residents.

The next harvesting event is on November 18.

Call 714.564.9525 to see how you can get on to a harvesting team or how you can donate fruit and vegetables from your garden.

If you are reading this on our national publication... Harvest Clubs are springing up all over America.  Check your local listings to find the club closest to you.

It's a wonderful way to share your homegrown produce and do good.

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