The Farmers Market Recovery Program weighs in at more than 830,000 Pounds on its Third Birthday!

Three years ago on August 15, a small Food Forward glean team went to the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market expecting to get a few hundred pounds of produce to give to the St. Joseph Center in Venice and Step Up on Second in Santa Monica. They were blown away when they collected over 1,300 pounds! This was the Farmers Market Recovery (FMR) Program’s first event and something incredible was surely in the works!

Santa Monica Wednesday gleaners from May 2013. Look at all those boxes!

Photo: Santa Monica Wednesday gleaners from May 2013. Look at all those boxes!

 

The success of that first glean was largely due to the passion of the program’s inaugural manager, Mary Baldwin, the unwavering support of market manager, Laura Avery, and the generosity of the market’s vendors. It was truly an example of how a community can come together to make change for the better. As the program has expanded to 15 markets over the last few years, each step along the way has benefitted tremendously from this kind of community support. We learn from each other and have only become stronger as a result.

One of our greatest assets over the years has been our remarkable Glean Team Leaders! The commitment and passion of these individuals continually blows our minds. Compared to the small glean team we started with, FMR has had 131 Glean Team Leaders (56 currently active) and on average, 250 general volunteers per month. Some of our Glean Team Leaders have been with us since the beginning and gleaning produce is now just in their blood. They can tell you all about what they’ve seen and experienced at the markets. “This one time I was leading at the Pacific Palisades market and Emma Stone was there!” “Last weekend at the Hollywood Farmers Market, ‘The Garden Of’ donated over 800 pounds!” “We were leading at Brentwood once and it started to POUR on us but we had amazing volunteers and still gleaned over 700 pounds!”

 

Current Glean Team Leader, Ian Halsema, telling "fish tales" about gleaning the Santa Monica Farmers Market (GTL since 2014). Photo credit: Rachel Jacobson of Private Chef Network.

Photo: Current Glean Team Leader, Ian Halsema, telling “fish tales” about gleaning the Santa Monica Farmers Market (GTL since 2014). Photo credit: Rachel Jacobson of Private Chef Network.

 

We live on the experiences we have at the markets — seeing the generosity of the vendors, meeting new people genuinely interested in food justice, and feeling like we are truly helping someone out when we collectively donate over 10,000 pounds a week, all of which goes to 48 receiving agencies. To learn more about where we are gleaning and how you can get involved, check out our page on the Food Forward web site.

Curious about what’s happening next? Keep an eye out for new market gleans launching soon, including one in Ventura County!

From everyone at Food Forward, thank you so much for supporting the Farmers Market Recovery Program over the last 3 years. Here’s to many more years of glean-tastic stories!

 

Here is a collection of some of our glean teams and vendors from 2015, only a sampling of all the activity happening at the markets! Clockwise from top left: Glean Team Leader Heidi Johnson with Larchmont GTLs, Pacific Palisades volunteers, F&F Farms at Santa Monica Sunday, Private Chef Network volunteer Nate Romos at Santa Monica Wednesday (photo: Rachel Jacobson), Gaytan Family Farm at Larchmont Farmers Market, Calabasas volunteers with Glean Team Leaders Karen Mariglia and Rosanna O’Guynn, Pasadena volunteers, and a box of pattypan squashes donated by vendors from the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market (photo: Rachel Jacobson).

Photo: This collage shows some of our glean teams and vendors from 2015, only a sampling of all the activity happening at the markets! Clockwise from top left: Glean Team Leader Heidi Johnson with Larchmont volunteers, Pacific Palisades volunteers, F&F Farms at Santa Monica Sunday, Private Chef Network volunteer Nate Romos at Santa Monica Wednesday (photo: Rachel Jacobson), Gaytan Family Farm at Larchmont Farmers Market, Calabasas volunteers with Glean Team Leaders Karen Mariglia and Rosanna O’Guynn, Pasadena volunteers, and a box of pattypan squashes donated by vendors from the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market (photo: Rachel Jacobson).

 

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