Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of Farmers Market Recovery (Part 1)

8.15.17 – Happy Birthday FMR!!! August 12th marked the 5th anniversary of the Farmers Market Recovery Program here at Food Forward. We want to extend a huge thank you to the most dynamic, devoted, and marvelous volunteers, receiving agencies, and vendors who have helped us recover over 1.9 million pounds since our inception in 2012! Here’s Part 1 – click here to read Part 2.

To commemorate such an amazing milestone, we have chosen to highlight volunteers and partners from each of the 21 farmers markets we glean at. We are so grateful for every person who has contributed to the program over the years and for the support from communities across Los Angeles and Ventura.

Santa Monica Sunday Farmers Market

For the Santa Monica Sunday Farmers Market, we are highlighting the amazing Kathy Turk. When she’s not volunteering with the Farmers Market Recovery Program, she is leading picks with the Backyard Harvest Program and representing us at events as a Community Ambassador.

Kathy Turk leads team of volunteers at the market

How long have you volunteered with Food Forward and why do you volunteer with us?

Food Forward grandfathered in Santa Monica Sunday (SMS) farmers’ market February 2013, so that’s my official start. Our partnership made gleaning at SMS sustainable, allowing what I was doing to grow so we could feed more people. That’s what it’s all about: our community, food justice, and healthy food for our people.

What is the most satisfying part of gleaning?

All the people involved—farmers, volunteers, clients of the agencies, and their smiles.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering at the markets?

Convincing a farmer to bring his crooked cucumbers to market for Food Forward, only to find that he was actually able to sell them all to customers.

What are your favorite types of produce?

The fruits of summer and beautiful organic salad greens are my favorite types of produce to glean.

What do you hope the FMR program achieves in the next 5 years?

I hope the program can develop more of a output focus with the volunteers and super volunteers. Inputs are simply putting in the hours. Outputs are everything from kit and equipment maintenance, to the quantity and quality of the food we collect, and the relationships we have with the farmers and receiving agencies.

Melrose Place Farmers Market

For the Melrose Place Farmers Market, we are highlighting our partner, Waste Not Want Not Now. This market glean marked the first time we partnered with a receiving agency in handling the duties and responsibilities of a market glean. Waste Not Want Not Now also picks up from the Studio City Farmers Market.

Waste Not Want Not Now picks up at the Melrose Place Farmers Market

What does your organization do?

Waste Not Want Not Now was founded by Nancy Beyda and Alex Rose. For over 10 years, we have been working with a group of volunteers to pick up food donated by grocery stores, restaurants and hotels, and deliver it to organizations that feed and serve the homeless of greater Los Angeles. Waste Not Want Now Now works to raise consciousness about the widespread waste of food resources through our work, as well as divert the excess food from markets into the hands of charities that feed the hungry.

How long have you been receiving food from Food Forward?

We’ve been receiving food from the Studio City Farmers Market since September last year. We’ve also recently started working with Food Forward on their weekly gleans at the Melrose Place farmer’s market.

What role does fresh produce play in your organization?

We strongly believe that it’s not only important to bring food to those who are hungry, but to do so in a way that is healthy, dignified, and thoughtful. Everyone deserves access to nutritious food, not just those who can afford it. The ability to donate fresh produce is crucial to our operation. At The Center at Blessed Sacrament, fresh produce is part of the wellness model that emphasizes healthy eating in conjunction with providing housing, health care, mental health services and community.

What are the main uses of food you receive and who do you serve?

Waste Not Want Not Now works out of The Center at Blessed Sacrament, a homeless recovery center in the heart of Hollywood. Much of the fresh produce is donated to The Center to assist with their ongoing work to help our city’s homeless live enjoyable, healthy, and safer lives. We also donate to the Good Shepherd Center for Women & Children, Angelica Lutheran Church, and My Friend’s Place.

How does receiving produce from Food Forward affect the work that you do?

Food Forward is a significant contributor of fresh produce to WNWN Now. Through the market gleans, we are able to bring upwards of 500 pounds of produce to Los Angeles’ needy population per week.

Burbank Farmers Market

For the Burbank Farmers Market, we are highlighting our largest vendor at the market, Island Farms. Island Farms have patented fruit that is both delicious and crucial for any marketgoers. They make donations at the Burbank and Studio City Farmers Markets!

Island Farms fills a Food Forward box with produce

What is the history of your farm?

Island Farms started in 1910 with my grandfather selling with grapes and raisins. We have since expanded to include a wide variety of other produce, including peaches and citrus fruits.

How long have you been selling at farmers markets, and how many markets do you work each week?

We have been selling at farmers markets for the last15 years since 2002. We sell at 4 markets each week (Thu, Sat, Sun). Next week will be our 15th anniversary at the Burbank Saturday Farmers Market.

How long have you been donating produce to Food Forward?

We have been donating produce to Food Forward since Food Forward first approached us. We highly recommend other vendors to donate to Food Forward. Their reliable volunteers are the key to their success.

Why do you donate produce to Food Forward?

We do not want to waste food. Donating produce is an excellent way to reduce waste while helping the less fortunate and putting a smile on others faces. Once, we heard that some people specifically request produce donated by Island Farms, which we take as a huge compliment.

What are your favorite types of produce?

Everything we grow, especially nectarines, summer fruits.

Pacific Palisades Farmers Market

For the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market, we are highlighting the wonderful Susan Lasken. Susan splits her time between the Pacific Palisades and Studio City Farmers Markets and additionally is a Community Ambassador.

Susan Lasken puts together Food Forward boxes

How long have you volunteered with Food Forward and why do you volunteer with us?

I have been volunteering for about four years.

What is the most satisfying part of gleaning?

There are so many things that are satisfying. I enjoy working with all the volunteers. It is as chance to meet a variety of dedicated, interesting people. I enjoy being at the market experiencing the sights, sounds colors and smells, and finally I like getting to know the vendors and the despite the hard work they have such a wonderful attitude.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering at the markets?

My most memorable glean was when the program first began; I was the only person that showed up to glean at the market. Not only that, it was raining. Despite the hardships, the agencies and vendors all chipped in to help, and we were able to distribute food that would have been wasted to needy people.

What are your favorite types of produce?

I like all vegetables and fruits except I am not overly fond of kale.

What do you hope the FMR program achieves in the next 5 years?

I hope it is able to reach more needy people, delivering to the homeless encampments even.

Torrance Tuesday Farmers Market

For the Torrance Tuesday Farmers Market, we are highlighting Buenrostro Farms. Buenrostro Farms are known for growing onions, artichokes, strawberries and sugar snap peas. We are grateful for vendors like Buenrostro who make weekly donations at multiple markets!

Buenrostro Farms at the Torrance Farmers Market

What is the history of your farm?

We are located in San Bernardino. It’s a family operation, founded by Geraldo. My son Ricardo does the Torrance Market.

How long have you been selling at farmers markets, and how many markets do you work each week?

We have been selling at farmers markets for 15 years and currently do about 8 markets per week.

How long have you been donating produce to Food Forward?

For quite some time

Why do you donate produce to Food Forward?

We donate to Food Forward because they care about the community, don’t want to see people go hungry, and they think we’re all around good guys!

What are your favorite types of produce?

We love strawberries, onions, watermelon and tomatoes.

Pasadena Farmers Market

For the Pasadena Farmers Market, we are highlighting our one and only receiving agency at the market, Friends In Deed. Friends in Deed is an incredible organization that do so much in their community and have been excellent partners in helping feed those in need!

Friends In Deed in Pasadena welcomes a Food Forward produce donation

What does your organization do?

Friends In Deed is dedicated to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable residents in the greaterPasadena/Altadena area and surrounding cities. Our mission is to alleviate the effects of poverty, to encourage self-sufficiency through the collective efforts of congregations, individuals and community organizations and to promote mutual support, understanding and collaboration within the faith community. Our food pantry provides low-income and no- income families with food on a weekly basis.

How long have you been receiving food from Food Forward?

We’ve been working with Food Forward for more than 3 1⁄2 years. For the first year, we mainly received fruit via the Backyard Harvests. For the last 2+ years, we’ve been picking up every Saturday from the Pasadena Farmers Market. It is produce that we count on week in and week out.

What role does fresh produce play in your organization?

We provide food to more than 300 families every week. Besides offering our community shelf stable foods, it is one of our top priorities to be able to offer as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible to them. When a person visits our food pantry, they are able to select the foods they want. That means that they are taking foods they, and their family, will eat. Being able to offer healthy choices to our families, means they can prepare and serve healthy meals at home. Depending on availability, we usually distribute between 1,000-1,500 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables per week. Ideally, I would like to let people take as much produce as they want/need.

What are the main uses of food you receive and who do you serve?

Our food pantry is set up like a neighborhood market and our community will come through and chose the foods they want, based on family size and food availability. Most of our community falls into the category of “working poor” or are senior citizens. Most have places to live, homes or apartments, and resides in the greater Pasadena/Altadena area. But we do also provide to the homeless individuals in our community as well. Not counting the children in the families, the age range of people visiting us is from 25-90 years of age and is diverse in its ethnicity.

How does receiving produce from Food Forward affect the work that you do?

I can only begin to describe how much receiving fresh produce from Food Forward means to me, my community, and the work we are doing. Buying fresh produce is not cheap and if you are on a limited budget, you might opt for cheaper, less healthy food – because it is affordable. All the food we distribute, whether it is shelf-stable, fresh produce, bread, meat, etc., is free to our community. This means that our community is taking home fresh fruits and vegetables and serving healthier meals to themselves and their families.

Hollywood Farmers Market

For the Hollywood Farmers Market, we are highlighting an amazing vendor and partner, The Garden Of. We recognized The Garden Of at our Spring Melt this past year with the Fruitanthropist Award to acknowledge the important work they do in the community and the high-level partnership we have built with them over the years! They donate to us at the Hollywood and Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Markets!

The Garden Of Farm displays their bounty of greens

What is the history of your farm?

Shu Takikawn moved here from Japan 35 years ago and began farming. He then met his future wife Debbie and in 1993, they started their own farm. It was initially 2 acres and has since grown to 70 acres. They really value being organic, not using chemicals and not harming the natural back and forth in nature.

How long have you been selling at farmers markets, and how many markets do you work each week?

We started donating when we started farming in 1993. We currently sell to four markets; two in Los Angeles and two in Santa Barbara County.

How long have you been donating produce to Food Forward?

3 years

Why do you donate produce to Food Forward?

We love being able to donate and not letting any of our food go to waste. We love being involved in a program that is very direct in giving back.

What are your favorite types of produce?

The best stuff we sell! Which is lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers

Brentwood Farmers Market

For the Brentwood Farmers Market, we are highlighting one of our most active Glean Team Leaders, Rosanna O’Guynn. Rosanna also leads at the Mar Vista and Larchmont Farmers Market.

Rosanna leads a team of volunteers at the market

How long have you volunteered with Food Forward and why do you volunteer with us?

I’ve been a volunteer for Food Forward for 3 years so far. I volunteer for food recovery, that would otherwise go to waste is a adequate action.

What is the most satisfying part of gleaning?

The most satisfying part of gleaning is knowing that even an item of fresh produce given as a donation can bring some sort of encouragement.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering at the markets?

My favorite memory is each time a glean occurs. It’s always rewarding to see the amount of produce donated by the farmers.

What are your favorite types of produce?

My favorite type of produce is fresh produce!

What do you hope the FMR program achieves in the next 5 years?

I hope for more progression.

Calabasas Farmers Market

For the Calabasas Farmers Market, we are highlighting Family Rescue Center. Family Rescue Center not only picks up from the market, but allow us to store our market kit and supplies at their facility. They are an integral partner for the market and we appreciate everything they have done for us!

Boxes arrive at Family Rescue Center

What does your organization do?

Family Rescue Center provides food assistance along with free used clothing, vocational training scholarships, health education, and referrals to other agencies. We serve about 300 families a month, 40% of our people served are children. We also provide extras such as back packs in August, Thanksgiving food, and toys at Christmas.

How long have you been receiving food from Food Forward?

Richard (Dick) Shively first connected Family Rescue Center with Food Forward in 2012. At that time it was for the backyard fruit picks. Dick was one of the founders of Family Rescue Center back in 1998.

What role does fresh produce play in your organization?

All this fresh produce is offered to our families (mostly working poor in the Canoga Park area, heavily Hispanic) when they come in for their monthly food distribution. They choose what produce they want. The standard menu they receive is dried and canned food, plus donated bread and desserts from local supermarkets. The farmer’s market food is so important to give more nutrition and variety to the families. This not only increases the amount of the food they receive, it also increases the health value of the meals they can cook.

What are the main uses of food you receive and who do you serve?

All this fresh produce is offered to our families (mostly working poor in the Canoga Park area, heavily Hispanic) when they come in for their monthly food distribution. They choose what produce they want. The standard menu they receive is dried and canned food, plus donated bread and desserts from local supermarkets.

How does receiving produce from Food Forward affect the work that you do?

The farmer’s market food is so important to give more nutrition and variety to the families. This not only increases the amount of the food they receive, it also increases the health value of the meals they can cook.

Channel Islands Farmers Market

For the Channel Islands Farmers Market, we are highlighting Azteca Farms. Azteca Farms are an awesome vendor who help us fight hunger in two different counties! Azteca Farms donate a variety of produce at the Long Beach and Channel Island Farmers Market

Azteca Farms at the Channel Islands Farmers Market

What is the history of your farm?

It has been in our family the past 20 years in Peru

How long have you been selling at farmers markets, and how many markets do you work each week?

We do about 10 markets a week and have been doing them the past 15 years

How long have you been donating produce to Food Forward?

5 years

Why do you donate produce to Food Forward?

We have always helped out the local shelter in Piru and are glad to help others in need throughout the area.

What are your favorite types of produce?

Zucchini and squash

Stay tuned for the next post that will feature spotlights from the other markets that we glean at!

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