Food Forward Blog
Fruit of the Month: Buddha’s Hands

Ahhh…the exotic and elusive Buddha’s Hand Citron. Coming face to face with this ancient, mystifying fruit is a special and unusual treat, even for the most seasoned fruit enthusiast, or as we like to call ourselves, zest heads.

These wondrous fruits, whose appearance can be likened to a golden squid or perhaps a dog-pile of slithering banana slugs, date back the fourth century when Buddhist monks would carry this graceful oddity from India to China, where it came to symbolize happiness, wealth and longevity. To this day, Buddha’s Hands are celebrated offerings during Chinese and Japanese New Year’s festivities, as they are believed to bestow good fortune on a household.

Those of us at the Food Forward headquarters recently have been blessed with the presence of these incredible, unearthly creatures where they’ve often served as the center of conversation around the ever-brewing Food Forward coffee pot: “Where did that come from?”, “How do they grow?”, “What do you do with it???”

So get ready, now is the time to enlighten you with our ponderous findings!

The origin of our Buddha’s Hands is a residential property in Shadow Hills, a small area in Northern Los Angeles. Yes! You can have your very own Buddha’s Hand tree, which is really more like a bush.

These fruits, which are actually the oldest known citrus in cultivation, are noted as a great indoor plant variety since they stay rather small and have no tolerance for frost temperatures. If you’re able to satisfy these warm temp lovers, Buddha’s bushes are ripe for harvesting during the winter months. Then, if fortunate enough to grow (or procure) one of these majestic creatures, you are left with the timeless question, WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?!

Well, the truth is you need to get creative. Buddha’s Hands typically have no pulp, so their fingers could be seen to some as ample surface area for zesting. But for most of us, turning this beautiful freak of a fruit into miniscule shreds just seems like a waste. If you’re the confectionist type, then candying them is a great way to go. I’ve also heard these conversation starters make incredible room fresheners, so you really needn’t do much at with them at all if you don’t want to.

Personally, I have found them to be wonderful additions to homemade concoctions. Buddha’s fingers shined in a steeped batch of wellness tea I made last week when it seemed like everyone I came into contact with had the plague… I mean, the flu. And if that wasn’t going to steer off the sickness, then by golly the Buddha’s Hand infused vodka I made would surely do the trick!

Regardless of what use you think is best, during this week leading up to Chinese New Year on the 19th, all of us at Food Forward would like to bestow the good tidings of the Buddha’s Hand upon you and wish you a very fruitful year to come!

Read More: Posted in Backyard Harvest, Food Education
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February’s Volunteer of the Month: Heidi Johnson

Meet Heidi Johnson, the one and only Farmers Market Glean Team Leader at the Larchmont Farmers Market. Heidi is truly someone special in the Food Forward family. She single-handedly began our produce recovery at the Larchmont Farmers Market in March of 2014 to ensure that food insecure Los Angeles City College students receive fresh fruits and veggies, and she and her team of equally dedicated volunteers have been handling all elements of the glean every Sunday since. Heidi has a real passion for helping those in need and dedicates herself to service not only through her work with Food Forward but also as the Resource Center Manager at LACC. She does it all with such style (check out that Halloween outfit!), positivity and commitment that she has become an integral part of the Food Forward team. Read more about the amazing Heidi below!

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?

I got started with Food Forward when I was President of the Associated Student Government at Los Angeles City College last Spring 2014. The director of the LACC Foundation, Robert Schwartz, informed us about this wonderful opportunity to provide a service to the large homeless population here on campus, many of whom are veterans and former foster youth. I jumped at the chance to be the change I wanted to see in the community.

What are some other projects you’re working on that you’d like to share?

Now I am the Resource Center Manager at LACC. The Resource Center is like a thrift store but it’s free to LACC students. As manager of the Resource Center, I am responsible for getting donations from faculty, staff, students and the community to offer to the students that are in need. We accept clean, gently used clothing items, toiletries, bedding, and non-perishable food items. The Food Forward program compliments this service nicely. Many of the clients that utilize the Resource Center also receive produce from our super Sunday gleans.

What is your favorite memory working with Food Forward?

My favorite memory working with Food Forward is the family community we have built between the team of volunteers and the people who come and get the food. We exchange recipes and look out for one another. The volunteers make it happen. Without the awesome team that supports me, I wouldn’t be able to serve so many people. I love my Food Forward volunteer family.

Any wisdom you’d like to share with the world about life?

“Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take things personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best!” The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz

Heidi with her Larchmont Farmers Market Glean Team!

Read More: Posted in Community Action, Farmers Market, Farmers Market Recovery, Los Angeles Volunteer, Uncategorized, Urban Fruit Gleaning
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REVISED: We are Hiring an Weekend Support Driver!

Position: FMR/BYH Driver and Weekend Support Staff (part-time, 12-22 hrs/week, 8 days/month)

Position Overview:

The Driver/Weekend Support Staff will report to the FMR Manager and BYH Manager and serve two main roles: (1) drive materials and equipment between the office, markets, harvests, and agencies and (2) act as support staff to the volunteers when out in the field. At all times, the Driver/Support Staff will be representing Food Forward as a community ambassador. The weekly market responsibilities include re-stocking the FMR supply kits at farmers markets across Los Angeles, checking in with glean team leader (volunteer) and assessing their needs, filling in as a glean team leader or assisting with gleans when needed, and occasionally driving boxes from farmers markets to receiving agencies. The bi-weekly harvest responsibilities include packing one of our Food Forward vehicles, equipment drop-off and pick-up, fruit collection, fruit deliver to local agencies, and assisting with harvests when needed. The Driver/Weekend Support Staff should be able to lead volunteers at any market or harvest in emergencies. The driver is expected to provide great customer service, keep in constant contact with the FMR and BYH Managers, and provide weekly email recaps of the weekend’s events.

All FMR work is on Saturdays (4-6 hours) and Sundays (8 hours). Time commitment would be two Sundays and all Saturdays per month. Additional hours would be available, depending on need. The schedule will be coordinated with the FMR Manager one month in advance.

BYH work varies month to month. Picks are scheduled 3-4 weeks in advance and would require Monday/Friday or Saturday/Sunday driving. Driving will average about 4 hours/day. The schedule will be coordinated with the BYH manager every month.

The driver would be using Food Forward vehicles and does not need to provide a delivery vehicle. However, reliable transport to and from the office is required.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Valid Class C Driver’s license
  • Ability to drive large utility-style vans and trucks in compliance of traffic and safety laws
  • Clean driving record
  • Ability to lift and move boxes of produce weighing up to 45 lbs from ground to vehicles
  • Ability to load picking equipment such as 8’ and 12’ foot ladders, picker poles, and hand trucks for harvests up to 50 people
  • Availability Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday

Skills/Qualifications:

  • Extremely organized and efficient with excellent attention to detail
  • Excellent verbal communication
  • Team player
  • Good geographical knowledge of Greater Los Angeles
  • Excellent problem-solving skills and ability to make and act on decisions quickly
  • Excited to represent Food Forward when visiting markets and agencies and act as a community ambassador

Wage: $12.00 – $15.00/hr depending on experience.

How to Apply:

Send a cover letter in the body of the email and attach your resume in a PDF version to leah@foodforward.org.  The subject line should read, Farmers Market Recovery Program Driver – (Your Name).  No phone calls please. Please follow these instructions to insure that we process your application.

Read More: Posted in Backyard Harvest, Farmers Market Recovery, Job Opportunity, Urban Fruit Gleaning
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Volunteers of the Month: Jeff & Tanya!

We are lucky enough to have not just one, but two Volunteers of the Month for December: Culver City Farmers Market Glean Team Leads, Jeff Feldman and Tanya Silva!

Jeff and Tanya are a gleaning dream team at the Culver City Farmers Market! They are both employees at STAR Education, one of the amazing agencies that receives produce from Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program, and have been mainstays at the Culver City market since we started gleaning there in late 2013. Jeff and Tanya help with equipment storage and produce collection every single Tuesday evening and, if that’s not enough dedication, they are constantly going above and beyond to make the CC market gleans more enjoyable and productive for all the volunteers, vendors and staff involved. Read more about this awesome duo below and, hey, why not join them at the Culver City Farmers Market soon?!

So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?

Jeff: A little over a year ago, STAR Education, the company I work for was chosen as a receiving agency for the Culver City Farmers Market. In addition to picking up the food, I also became a volunteer and lead to help collect what we and other agencies were receiving. I have been attending almost every Tuesday since then, and it continues to be a rewarding experience and a great opportunity to meet other volunteers from Culver City that are passionate about helping others.

Tanya: I heard about it while I was volunteering at a school garden from Mary Baldwin.

What are some other projects you’re working on that you’d like to share?

Jeff: About the same time last year that I joined Food Forward, I embarked on a mission to have a hamburger in every state. So far I have visited 21 of 50. Besides eating a lot of hamburgers, it has given me the opportunity to see more of the United States, as well as visit friends that have moved away from California. I am also working on a website to teach people what to do with leftover parts of foods that they would usually throw away like banana peels, apple cores, or artichoke stems.

Tanya: I am currently an active Los Angeles County Master Gardener. I volunteer at Carthay Elementary School and Culver City High School’s Learning Gardens. As a school garden volunteer I spend my time teaching children where their food comes from, basic gardening skills, nutrition and science. I also teach Beginner Adult Gardening Courses through University California Cooperative Extension. I love gardening and I also have 8 backyard chickens in the city.

What is your favorite memory working with Food Forward?

Jeff: Out of all the great memories created, the one that stands out the most is when a local poet at the Farmers Market wrote us a poem about sustainability. All the volunteers that night gathered around as we did a reading.

Tanya: It is difficult to pin point one favorite memory because there are so many. But I will mention that I am always amazed at how generous the farmers are at the markets and how Food Forward attracts the most incredibly passionate volunteers and staff.

Any wisdom you’d like to share with the world about life?

Jeff: Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know what new experiences await, what new friends will be made, and what new opportunities will be presented.

Tanya: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. It’s a Winston Churchill quote but it’s always meant a lot to me.

Read More: Posted in Community Action, Farmers Market, Farmers Market Recovery, Food Education, Los Angeles Volunteer, Uncategorized, Volunteer Organization
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We Are Hiring a Volunteer Coordinator!

POSITION: Volunteer Coordinator (Part-time position with the possibility to become full-time in 3 – 6 months)

POSITION OVERVIEW:

The Volunteer Coordinator will report to the Volunteer Manager. This position provides an opportunity to become deeply involved with a diverse group of people in the urban food justice community, while working for a prominent and growing nonprofit. The Volunteer Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring Food Forward’s 100 volunteer powered food recovery events each month are fully staffed, while handling volunteer inquiries, logistics, providing support and implementing methods of outreach. Start date of January 5, 2015

QUALIFICATIONS:

The ideal candidate will have an interest in hunger and food justice issues, along with an ability to work, lead and communicate with a large, diverse group of volunteers. We are looking for an extremely detail-oriented person who can handle a substantial amount of correspondence. He / she can work comfortably coordinating the volunteer needs of our 100 (and growing) volunteer events, of varying size, each month across Los Angeles and Ventura counties. This candidate is extremely personable and able to communicate and lead volunteers with various personalities and temperaments. The volunteer program is constantly changing to meet Food Forward’s growth in food recovery efforts so this person needs to be adaptable and creative about methods of volunteer outreach. The Volunteer Coordinator is the face of Food Forward at community events therefore being well-versed and well-spoken to attract new volunteers is key. A collaborative spirit, a willingness to attend regular outdoor volunteer events (sometimes on weekends) and a knowledge of LA geography are all essential!

CORE RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Coordinating volunteers for 100 Backyard Harvest and Farmers Market Recovery Events each month

  • Acting as the main point of contact and support for volunteers

  • Maintaining, updating and tracking a database of 7000+ volunteers

  • Listing and managing upcoming volunteer events on VolunteerMatch, LA Works and community and university boards

  • Managing online volunteer registration

  • Collecting and maintaining accurate volunteer metrics

  • Researching groups and community events for volunteer outreach

  • Representing Food Forward at community and speaking events

  • Cultivating and fostering long lasting relationships with volunteers

  • Frequent written communication in emails, postings and documents

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS:

  • Bachelors Degrees (preferably in a related field)

  • Strong people skills and public speaking experience

  • Strong writing skills

  • Experience in working with volunteers

  • Experience in managing large numbers of people

  • A passion for food justice and community building

  • Skilled in networking and growing partnerships

  • Ability to communicate with various populations

  • A flexible team player who is able to work well under pressure and time constraints

  • Knowledge of Southern California Geography

  • Savvy in WordPress, social media, Vertical Response, Excel and Google Docs

  • PR experience a plus!

  • A valid drivers license

  • Willingness to work on weekends or after hours

  • Able to lift 40-60lbs

Hourly Wage: $15.00

HOW TO APPLY:

Send a cover letter in the body of the email and attach your resume in a PDF version to info@foodforward.org. The subject line should read, Volunteer Coordinator – (Your Name). No phone calls please. Please follow these instructions to ensure that we process your application. Submissions are due by Monday, December 8, 2014.

Read More: Posted in Uncategorized
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lbs. of fruit picked to date

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