Most farms in the Boulder and Broomfield area are smaller, producing on 10 acres or less. With their smaller operation size, they also have smaller staff sizes. These farms find it difficult to donate as they do not have the means to deliver the produce they have after markets or when they have excess. The concept of the pick-up came from the concern of a small farm that wanted to donate but did not have the staff available to drive to the warehouse facility. The VISTA proposed the idea to some of these farms to create a routine Monday morning produce pick-up throughout the summer. Monday was chosen to best suit farms that sold at the farmers markets on the weekends and would collect the excess from their Monday morning harvests for the week. The VISTA used the food bank van and had 3 farms for stops in the trial year. Volunteers showed interest in the program to take over for years to come. The program captured over 6,000 pounds of produce in its trial year.
Summer produce pick-ups resulted from the initial conversations with farms in the area when the VISTA began donor outreach. Many wanted to donate but could not figure out how it would work for them and their operations. Three farms decided they wanted to participate and found the program to be very successful. They were very happy with the results from the first year and are on board to sign up for next year.
Community Food Share (CFS) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit food bank serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties in Colorado since 1981. Last year Community Food Share distributed close to 10 million pounds of healthy, nutritious food to food insecure individuals and families through its 42 partner agencies and pantries as well as its three direct distribution programs. The quality and freshness of the food is a strong focus of the organization with the goal of fresh produce accounting for 35% of distribution.
In 2016, Community Food Share brought on a Harvest Against Hunger VISTA to put more focus on the Garden Share programs. During the 2017 season the VISTA brought in 17,300 more pounds than the previous season without the VISTA. Garden Share encompasses several growing and harvesting programs that bring fresh, local produce into the food bank. The Community Garden Donations is a collaboration with Earth’s Table, a nonprofit community of gardeners who maintain several garden sites around the Boulder area. The volunteers of the Earth’s Table group grow everything from seed to harvest to help feed hungry people by donating to Community Food Share and a few other local agencies. This program also encourages home and community gardeners to share their bounty from their backyards and community gardens. The Farm to Food Bank program works with local, regional and state farmers to bring in fresh produce, meat and dairy items to the food bank. Many of these farmers work with a culled produce recovery program, donating excess product already harvested from their fields. Some smaller local Boulder County farmers have even participated in the Monday Produce Pick-Up program, started by the VISTA, to collect excess produce from farms that did not have the staff time to deliver the product to the warehouse. The Gleaning program also works with some of these farms that do not have the labor or resources to collect all the produce out of their field but see the potential of the amount of food left that can be recovered. Farms will contact Community Food Share, and the VISTA will also reach out to farms to request for groups to come and gather the produce.