Attendees discussed how to increase efforts and efficiency in harvesting from local fruit trees. A large part of the discussion focused on outreach and best practices on connecting with tree owners. One member was interested in discussing a for-profit venture and the regulations involved with compensation and donations.
Outreach at farmer’s markets can be undertaken immediately with a sign-up board for tree owners to register their tree. This can help spread the word and get quick donations. In an effort to engage all members of their community, especially the elderly, organizations should seek out tree scouters within their volunteers. Tree scouters would look for underutilized trees and available ripened fruit. This will help increase efficiency and total output with just a little research behind willing volunteers who might not be able to contribute physically.
Developing strong connections within city and local government was another step the group wanted to undertake. Group members found having an ally advocating for their causes and helping with regulations to be very helpful. Lastly, the group believed that they needed to increase their education efforts to emphasize that their gleaned produce is public food.
The group believed that a designated space at Farmer’s Markets for their organization would greatly increase their interactions with the community and increase their reach. For coordinating volunteers, they believed that developing more sophisticated and efficient systems will also increase their efforts. For those interested in taking donated fruit and selling the product, further information will be needed about regulations and appropriate compensation to tree owners.
The Executive Director of Food Forward shared with the group a fundraising idea of private picks. A private pick is when an organization or company pays to harvest produce off trees and farms. He’s found that it’s a terrific way to provide funding for his organization while providing a large and enthusiastic volunteer force. However, it requires more effort on his end to truly make gleaning an “event” and by advertising among hotels and businesses. He hopes one day that he can make a tourist event out of his gleans by drawing in visitors of the LA area.