A Volunteer We Can Always Count On
So tell me, how did you get started with Food Forward?
After a shocking turn of events during the 2016 election, my wife and I attended a community outreach gathering looking for some way to get more involved. FF was one of the organizations mentioned and sounded like something we’d be interested in.
What drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
Getting outside and working with my hands was appealing. Learning how much food waste is occurring and seeing how directly the work goes to good got me hooked.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I work as an Accountant and outside of that, I do a fair amount of reading, playing softball, puzzles, hiking, and traveling
What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?
I really enjoy the large harvests where a group of strangers can instantly band together to harvest thousands of pounds of fruit to help those in need.
How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?
It’s very satisfying to walk up to a tree full of fruit that would normally go to waste and walk away from it with full boxes that will go a local organization.
What was your first volunteer day like?
Very eye opening. We drove up to an orchard in Ventura and were shocked to see the rows and rows of grapefruit and orange trees just sitting there. I wanted to stay all day and pick the fruit so it wouldn’t go to waste
What have you learned from volunteering?
How much more satisfying work is when it helps someone else.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
Do or do not, there is no try.
Harvest Change with Smog City’s Laurie Porter
9.25.18 — As part of Food Forward’s 2nd Annual #HarvestChange initiative, Smog City created a Danny’s Cream Ale, brewed with fresh sweet corn. You’d be amazed at the number of ways Smog City works to reduce waste all year long — through supporting Food Forward and their own many sustainability initiatives. We chatted with owner and Food Forward Culinary Advisory Board member Laurie Porter about what inspires her to Harvest Change every day.
Smog City’s Laurie Porter (right) pictured with some of our wonderful kumquat donors!
Smog City is harvesting change this month with a super-special cream corn ale. What makes this ale such a great way to enjoy corn? What kind of beer drinkers will enjoy this beer most?
Our Danny’s Cream Ale is a fun take on traditional cream ales which usually use processed corn in the brew. We grilled fresh sweet white corn and used the complex starches and and robust caramelized sugars to yield a more silky and full mouthfeel. Additionally, the fresh corn character blends nicely with the cream ale base.
Despite the challenging brew and production process that this beer required, this is an extremely approachable beer for both new beer drinkers and seasoned beer drinkers. I’d also like to add that there was only a small amount of this beer made so it is available only during our “Pints with Purpose with Food Forward” events at the taproom in Torrance on Thursdays in September.
Smog City’s Danny Quinonez transforms charred sweet corn into a golden, frothy brew!
You’ve supported Food Forward in so many ways over the years. From our partnership Kumquat Saison (which just medaled at the Great American Beer Fest this month!) and annual Spring Melts to Harvest Change and 1% for the Planet, it’s hard to keep track! What excites you most about the idea of harvesting food, fighting hunger, and building community with Food Forward?
Working with Food Forward over the last 4 years has yielded so many wonderful experiences for myself and our Smog City team. Harvesting fruit, reducing waste, and directly impacting our community is something truly tangible, you can see the results of your investment in real time and that keeps you motivated. It feels good. It’s is incredibly satisfying to take fruit that would otherwise have gone to waste, turn it into our award winning Kumquat Saison and convert that into community activism. It tastes good and it does good, that’s a perfect partnership from my vantage.
Smog City makes and sells a partnership beer with Food Forward all year long! A behind the scenes look at Kumquat Saison.
Smog City is a role model for other craft breweries, and other businesses alike, in putting sustainability first. Supporting Food Forward is just one part of your larger efforts to to build a better sustainable world! What are some other cool things that Smog City does to “harvest change” all year long?
Since my husband and I started Smog City we’ve been focused on reducing waste, giving back and using our business to be proactive in our community and on the environment. We hope these small acts of activism will resonate and inspire others to do more and give more. Since we opened Smog 7 years ago, we believe that our responsibility as a small business is in quality of our product, the happiness of our team and to support the communities in our backyard.
With that said, Smog City took our environmental activism to the next level in 2017 by partnering with 1% for the Planet, an organization that partners businesses with environmentally conscious non-profits. This partnership has allowed Smog City to expand our impact to more organizations in our community. One way we give back is through our monthly partnerships with organizations like The Bay Foundation, Aquarium of the Pacific, Marine Mammal Rescue and of course, Food Forward. We host weekly fundraisers at our taproom on Thursdays between 3-10pm in an attempt to bring a unique experience to our customers while educating them on how they can also have a positive impact on the environment. I think it’s important that we are not complacent and that we empower others to make positive decisions that will impact future generations.
Besides our partnership with Food Forward and 1%, Smog City has a paid recycling program, we donate our spent grain to a local farmer for feed at no cost to him and no additional burden on our landfills and we recently installed an energy turbine that will allow us to reduce our use of gas and electricity among other things. These are all small measures but together they lead to a greater movement. One that says, We are growing a great company and at the same time having a positive impact on our community and environment and that’s how it should be.
Visit Smog City Brewery and Taproom!
We’re open 7 days a week. We also have a second taproom in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach called SteelCraft LB where we serve our award winning craft beers and guest wines! Both locations offer great community experiences and an opportunity to get to know the people behind the beer.
Smog City Brewery and Taproom
1901 Del Amo Blvd Torrance 90501
Smog City at SteelCraft
3768 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach 90807
Or follow us on instagram @smogcitybeer
Kumquat Saison in process at Smog City’s Torrance brewery.
From Mar Vista to New Life Society
9.11.18 — In our newest Farm to Table blog post, intern Joyce Liu highlights New Life Society, an organization that receives fresh produce from the Mar Vista Farmers Market for a mobile food pantry in Leimert Park.
The beautiful spring of Southern California brightened up the Sunday Mar Vista Farmers Market with fresh greens, citrus, apples, and some early cherries. The wonderful smell of warm bread and fruit met in the air, wafting into people’s nostrils and refreshing their minds.
“Excuse me, would you like to donate anything today?” Near the end of the market, a group of volunteers from Food Forward gleaned produce from vendors that would otherwise go to waste and distributed it to local hunger-relief agencies. Food Forward’s Farmers Market Recovery Program has recovered 2,400,791 pounds of produce from 24 farmers’ markets throughout the Los Angeles and Ventura, the equivalent of 9,603,164 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some of this gleaned produce went to an organization called New Life Society that distributes food and offers life counseling. When I met Yogita at the market, the person who runs their local chapter, she was busy sorting items from the donations for immediate distribution in the afternoon. With a friendly smile and cheerful voice, she invited me for a site visit to her mobile food pantry located in Leimert Park.
“I began to do this a few years ago when I came to study film in LA and inherited New Life Society from Millie Mims. Traditionally, we believe in the healing power of food.” Yogita stood by the side of her display of Food Forward boxes, speaking while waiting for people to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables. She was drawn to New Life Society through compassion and drive for justice. “A lot of people in the neighborhood are struggling with their lives and this is partly due to a negative fostering environment. Many of them end up homeless, addicted to the drugs, and fail to sustain their life.”
Besides making films and feeding those in need, she has also been active in advocating for a better livelihood for the homeless at community councils. “But nothing happened,” she bemoaned, “so I figured: ‘if you want to do something good, just go ahead and do it.’” Her courage and perseverance pushed her to achieve her dream of building a sustainable community by making healthy food choices more accessible.
Edifying through Ndyuka Wapishana and American culture, she used her rich knowledge about food to develop natural remedies and great recipes to share among the neighborhood. While the bulky orange branches in a box stumped everyone who saw them, Yogita saw the value. Instead of throwing them away in the compost, she advised a mother to boil the leaves and drink the tea to treat mucous. Yogita was also innovative in creating some combinations of food to “give some flavors” (e.g. hummus with some greens and nasturtium), which she considered crucial in making any healthy dish favorable. I asked what her secret was in was creating these recipes. She smiled and said: “Well, I got a lot of inspiration from my mom. If you are fighting too much, you are probably eating the wrong food.”
Throughout my interview with Yogita, there were warm greetings, hugs, and lovely chats between her and the people who came to pick up food. From my point of view, they were more like friends than merely clients.
In envisioning the future of New Life Society, Yogita is looking to create more inclusive and established programs beyond their food pantry services. She is hunting for better housing to accommodate the recipients of the gleaned produce as well as the potential volunteers. Besides the current location in Crenshaw, she is also working with an adult day care center and organizing a few vegan cooking nights. Despite the current difficulties, she was positive about the future: “ I have people like you who come visit and help from time to time. I can handle things well for now, but I will need more volunteers in the future when I get the house.”
Food fulfills our stomach. More importantly, it is the medium to communicate with hungry souls in hopes of offering them a sustainable life solution. It was great to shadow Yogita from New Life Society—from the food donation, to natural remedies, to individual livelihood and community development. She is grateful for the partnership with Food Forward, which supports the foundation of her work in food justice, and she hopes for further collaboration opportunities in the future.
By Joyce Liu, Food Forward intern
Harvesting Change with Preux & Proper’s Sammy Monsour
9.4.18 — As part of Food Forward’s 2nd Annual #HarvestChange initiative, Preux & Proper will contribute $1 for each Grilled Yellow Sweet Corn Salad. We chatted with activist, author, and Preux & Proper chef/partner Sammy Monsour about what inspires him to Harvest Change.
Preux & Proper’s Sammy Monsour.
Food Forward chose to highlight corn for this year’s Harvest Change because it’s so emblematic of this time of year. It’s also a staple in your cuisine. What makes your Grilled Yellow Sweet Corn Salad such a perfect way to enjoy corn?
Nothing feels more like end of Summer / early Autumn to me than corn on the cob, especially off the grill. Growing up, my Lebanese grandmother grew corn—amongst other delicious veggies—in our backyard garden, so I’ve been in love with corn harvest season since childhood. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with many cuisines and cultures, Mexican being one of them, and our grilled yellow sweet corn is a reflection of that. It’s a riff off LA street corn, made with smoky miso aioli, queso fresco, scallion, aleppo chile and our crispy pork cracklins.
In many ways, this dish represent the food I Iove to eat, cook and serve. Simple and rustic plates that are served family style and loaded with flavor. My cuisine mixes my fondest memories of life and eating while encompassing the many cultures and peoples I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from. Sourcing sustainably and cooking from scratch with love, care and integrity are the foundation of what we do at both Preux & Proper and South City Fried Chicken.
We benefit from a year-round growing season here in Southern California, but there’s something really special about produce this time of year, too. What’s your favorite thing going on at the market right now?
Corn, tomatoes, peaches and figs! We’re in a 6-8 week period of perfection for these tasty treats! There’s nothing more perfect to me than a perfectly ripe and sweet ear of corn, heirloom tomato, yellow peach or brown turkey fig. They can be enjoyed in simple preparation or featured in the most elegant of preparations, and in both sweet and savory applications. The sky’s the limit!
Supporting Food Forward is just one part of your larger efforts to to build a better world — to harvest change — through the food you serve. What role do you believe that you, and your partner Joshua, have in sharing that ethos with the public?
For starters, whether our guests are aware of our sustainable practices or not, everyone that dines with us is supporting our mission, and ultimately supporting a better food system and a healthier community. I think that’s really cool!
We also take the responsibility of community work very seriously and join forces with many outstanding and inspiring organizations year round, including Chefs Collaborative, Seafood Watch, LA Kitchen, LA Food Council Policy, Share Our Strength, Slow Food, and of course, Food Forward.
We host annual fundraisers at Preux & Proper, organize and plan symposiums on the topics of community, sustainability and the advancement of our food system, and partner with several organizations to utilize Preux & Proper as an intern site for folks both young and old who are looking to gain a skill-set and start a new, more positive life. As just a couple of guys working hard and living our dreams, we the “ah ha” moment together and realized that “we made it,” and that even though we still have so much more we want to achieve together, we’re in a position where its officially our responsibility to be a part of the greater good.
Preux & Proper’s best-selling Grilled Yellow Sweet Corn Salad helps Food Forward
donate 11 pounds of produce to those in need. (Credit: Top Foodie Faves)
Sourcing all this good stuff is seriously hard work. What advice would you share with a young chef or restaurateur who’s still starting out, but wants to make responsible choices in their work?
Start with one thing that you’re passionate about and let yourself go down that rabbit hole. Ask questions. Do thorough research. Donate your time at food based charity events and network with folks you admire and want to learn from. It’s very overwhelming at times, because the subject of sustainability is so vast, but don’t let that discourage you.
As we rapidly approach a massive population increase, and the effects of global warming are evident through climate change, we’re heading into a future that is either very bright or very dim. Stay positive. There’s a LOT of people working toward making tomorrow better and they need your help. The world is changing “over night” and there’s great demand for innovation. It all starts with understanding simple concepts like seed saving, regenerative farming, sustainable aquaculture, waste reduction and energy efficiency, to name a few. I hope that makes sense.
I also try to source at least one really cool and new sustainable ingredient a week. It makes me feel like I’m moving forward no matter what else is going on around me. I’m no expert and am constantly challenging myself to learn more daily. I was fortunate enough to learn that mentality from my many mentors, and if anything, that is what I would pass along.
Fresh sweet corn, about to be recovered by Food Forward volunteers at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Volunteering Morning, Noon, and Night
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
My favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward is knowing that I am helping people in a number of ways. First there’s removing unwanted produce from a property, and then of course feeding people who need it!
How would you describe the volunteer experience at a harvest?
The volunteer experience at a harvest is always an opportunity to influence people to continue to make an impact. Everyone shares stories, learns from each other, and grows from being a part of something greater than themselves. We have fun while making a difference!
What was your first volunteer day like?
My first volunteer day was memorable and positive. It was a large backyard harvest in a lemon orchard with 20 or so other volunteers. The pick leaders, Joyce and Ally, were informative, inspiring and bubbly. The experience of collecting fruit, seeing the support of other volunteers, and simply chatting with Joyce and Ally inspired me to eventually become a pick leader.
What have you learned from volunteering?
From volunteering I have learned that there are more people out there who do want to make a difference. From the middle schoolers just logging in volunteer hours to the significant other just trying to make their partner happy by tagging along, people enjoy uniting for a greater cause to help others, and this makes me happy 🙂
Any words of wisdom you live by?
When being true to yourself: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter!”
Continuing the Conversation About Food Deserts
8.21.18 — Join us in getting involved with the conversation about food deserts, the implications of using the term, and possible solutions to limited food access in communities from a personal to policy level.
What is a Food Desert?
Food deserts are areas with limited access to supermarkets or other sources of fresh, nutritious, affordable, and culturally-appropriate food. They exist in urban and rural areas, and are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color. Residents in these neighborhoods may also be challenged by inadequate access to transportation, lower access to education, and higher levels of unemployment.
Although they are called “food deserts,” this doesn’t necessarily mean there is no food at all in these areas. Often times, there are many fast food restaurants, corner stores, liquor stores, and gas stations that provide highly processed foods that do not provide the necessary nutrients for a healthy diet. In fact, living in food deserts increases your likelihood of obesity and diabetes nine and five percentage points respectively, making food deserts a public health issue.
What’s the deal with that term?
The word “desert” is often used by human geographers to describe an area that is lacking in some aspect that is considered to be important for humans to have access to. As a verb, “desert” also meant to abandon something or someone. By the mid-1990’s, the term “food desert” emerged to describe places or situations that restricted residents’ access to nutritious food. While the term was meant to highlight the discrepancies between these areas and areas that had easier access to healthy food, there has been an increasing amount of discourse about the drawbacks to using this term.
For example, some activists and food systems workers use the term “food apartheid,” because unlike most deserts (the Mojave desert, for example), “food deserts” don’t happen naturally. This lack of access to good food is not accidental or coincidental. These food injustices are a result of deliberate private and public resource allocation decisions that exclude resources like healthy food from low-income communities, with communities of color being affected disproportionately. These factors include suburban migration and redlining, budget cuts in public transit, and discriminatory housing & hiring practices. While “food deserts” describe these areas as desolate and void of potential, “food apartheid” can challenge us to think critically about the social inequalities, inspiring us to act.
What’s the solution to food deserts?
So then, the answer seems simple: why don’t we just get grocery stores to move in these areas? Well sometimes, even this doesn’t necessarily fix everything. Studies have shown that even when grocery stores move into areas classified as food deserts, these communities continue to face disparities in health outcomes. It’s clear that there is a bigger problem than geography.
As described by Richard Florida,
“when it comes to food and nutrition, it’s not just that higher income Americans have more money. They benefit even more from higher levels of education and better information about the benefits of healthier eating. Indeed, education accounts for roughly 20 percent of the association between income and healthy eating, according to the study, with an additional 7 percent coming from differences in information about nutrition…enable affluent and educated households to put this nutritional information to use. For one, they simply have more time and resources to devote to their health and well-being. Conversely, lower-income people may simply discount the health advantages of higher-quality food or see some of those foods, like kale or avocado toast (to pick the most obvious examples), as smacking of urban elitism.”
On a basic level, to help increase food security in a community, there needs to be adequate access to healthy food, whether it be through a supermarket, farmers’ market, co-op, community food initiative, and perhaps surprisingly, even a corner store. With many low-income communities already doing a lot of their shopping at corner stores, moving healthy produce into these shops could be a great alternative. Perhaps we will start to see a rise of affordable and healthy fast food restaurants across the nation. However, there is evidence that educational initiatives on healthy eating and cooking need to be paired with physical food access in order to effectively help food security. Policy level interventions could help subsidize healthy foods or harness in-store marketing to promote the purchase of healthy foods.
Some solutions that are already working in communities in the United States include farmers markets that accept EBT, the Market Match Program, non-profit grocery stores and co-ops, produce services that deliver fresh fruits and vegetables, and organizations such as Food Forward that redistribute what would be food waste to food insecure residents.
What can you do to help?
You can click here to see if you live in an area under food apartheid or to locate the nearest area to you. You’re already doing a great step in helping your community by educating yourself about these issues. You can continue work in food security by finding solutions that work within your community, whether it is growing your own food in a backyard garden, working with local convenience stores to get more healthy foods, or teaching your friends and family members new recipes and about the benefits of healthy eating. Some local organizations that are already working with food security in low income communities include Los Angeles Food Policy Council, SUPRMRKT, Food On Foot, Hunger Action L.A., Market Makeovers, Every Table, Slow Food Ventura County, Food Share, and many others. Volunteer, reach outside your comfort zone, talk to your representatives, and speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves.
 Dutko, Paula, et al. “Characteristics and Influential Factors of Food Deserts.” USDA.gov, United States Department of Agriculture, Aug. 2012, www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/45014/30940_err140.pdf?v=41156.
“The Socio-Economic Significance of Food Deserts.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 29 June 2011, www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/the-socio-economic-significance-of-food-deserts.
 Shaw, Hillary John. “The Ecology of Food Deserts .” Core.ac.uk, The University of Leeds School of Geography, Dec. 2003, core.ac.uk/download/pdf/1146142.pdf.
 Florida, Richard. “Stop Blaming Food Deserts for the Nutrition Gap.” CityLab, University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, 22 Jan. 2018, www.citylab.com/equity/2018/01/its-not-the-food-deserts-its-the-inequality/550793
 Corapi, Sarah. “Why it takes more than a grocery store to eliminate a food desert.” PBS, PBS, 3 Feb. 2014, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/takes-grocery-store-eliminate-food-desert
 Conley, Paul. “5 Food Desert Solutions that Seem to be Working.” Food Dive, Food Dive, 31 Oct. 2013, https://www.fooddive.com/news/5-food-desert-solutions-that-seem-to-be-working/188432/
To Glean or Not to Glean? Why You Shouldn’t Let Bad Fruit Hang Around
8.14.18 — Joanna Glovinsky, founder of the Fruitstitute, a Los Angeles based fruit tree care and education service for backyard growers, explains why gleaning excess fruit on your tree is fundamental to maintaining a healthy backyard ecosystem.
We’ve all seen them. The citrus tree in a Los Angeles yard bursting with fruit. Oranges are piled up below the tree on the sidewalk and on the lawn, fallen fruit going to waste. At first you may think, “Wow! What a productive tree.” As a person who works with backyard fruit trees in Los Angeles, I see this and think, “Someone better glean this fruit and clean up this mess before the trees gets hurt.”
To see these trees as I do, you first have to understand that the species of fruit trees common in our backyards today have been cultivated by humans for centuries. Our human ingenuity has designed these trees with the primary purpose to give us fruit. So, when we do not pick that fruit and instead leave it on the tree or the ground to rot, we are not properly caring for our tree. Fruit left to rot attracts bugs, fungus and bacteria that break down organic waste and return it back to the soil. However, because our fruit trees are not designed for forest life and because the backyard garden is a manmade ecosystem, it’s not a good idea to invite these bugs into your home. Doing so can severely compromise the health of your entire garden and that of your neighbors. Bottom line: leaving fruit to rot is a big no-no. It’s counterintuitive to the purpose of a fruit tree.
Leaving fruit to rot is a big no-no. It’s counterintuitive to the purpose of a fruit tree.
Proper fruit tree care requires canopy sanitation at end of each harvest. Once the fruit is mature and you’ve picked more than you and yours can handle, you need to clean your canopy of dead, diseased, and damaged wood (which also invite the decomposing pests), collect all excess fruit, and properly dispose of any fallen fruit.
In the tree world, canopy sanitation is a basic part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a strategy that works to promote the health of the garden ecosystem as the most effective means for long-term pest prevention. Accordingly, the first choice method in IPM are those that keep pests from establishing in your backyard. Pests feed on decay and love rotten fruit. After invited in, they can set up shop and establish colonies in your soil and in the live tissue of the tree. So, if you had any sort of pest issues with this year’s harvest, these pests will almost certainly return if you don’t take proper measures to clean out the infestation. If you had no issues, but leave the moldy fruit where it is, you’re asking for them. Moreover, the longer you invite these pests to feed on your tree, the more energy the tree has to expend on fighting them off and the less energy it has to produce normal growth. Over the years, your tree’s immune system will eventually become severely compromised and what was once a bright bubbly orange tree bursting with fruit two times a year, becomes a sad sorry defoliated unfruitful tree.
In short, taking the fruit your tree provides is a fundamental part of a healthy, prosperous long-term relationship with your tree. If you can’t do the gleaning yourself, your tree will be just as happy if you call Food Forward to do it for you. They can turn your waste into another man’s treasure, free of charge.
Please note that for safety purposes, Food Forward can only harvest fruit below 15 feet. They will glean as much fruit on the tree as possible, but cannot always get it all. If there’s a little leftover that should be OK. The fruit should eventually drop. If you prune your tree annually, you can maintain it at a pickable size.
Photo by Samy’s Camera Outreach
Did Someone Say Pizza?
7.31.18 — Join Shing Yin Khor and Eron Rauch on August 4 for the Project Pizza online pop-up shop benefitting Food Forward. The draw-a-thon will feature dozens of talented artists making art and eating pizza, while raising money to fight hunger and food waste.
An Online Pop-Up Shop Benefitting Food Forward
August 4, 2018; 9 am to 9 pm
Location: Live-streamed on Twitch
Join Shing Yin Khor and Eron Rauch on Saturday, August 4 for the second Project Pizza online pop-up shop, raising money to fight hunger by selling food-themed art. From 9 am to 9 pm the artists will host a draw-a-thon featuring a dozen of their talented friends making art and jamming their faces full of pizza. Preorders open August 3rd, so visit the menu here and grab your slice (one random drawing), a whole pie (10), or even a party pack (30) to share with friends and co-workers.
The party will be live-streamed on Twitch. Drop in to watch Shing try dream up toppings for her pledged 250 drawings of pizza! Watch Eron probably set a real pizza on fire while he manages the stream! Will there be special guests? You bet! Every slice/drawing we sell helps immensely, so thanks in advance for spreading the word to all your food- and art-loving friends.
The fundraising goal is $5,000 and, that mark is hit, it will help Food Forward to finish strong in their new capital campaign to open the doors to a Produce Depot in Downtown Los Angeles.
All the art, resources, and time for Project Pizza are donated with special thanks to local farmers Weiser Family Farms, Buon Gusto Farms, and Tutti Frutti Farms for providing the ingredients used to power the artists with pizza.
Jeff Zugale (@jeffzugale), Jason Porath (@jasonporath), Rosie Marx & Co. (@rosiemarx), Nilah Magruder (@nillafle), Shing Yin Khor (@sawdustbear), Eron Rauch (@eron_rauch), Shannon Saar, Betsy Streeter, Kai (@kaidoesstuff), John Hogan (@thejohnhogan), and more TBA.
Main Site: http://eronrauch.com/projectpi
Live Stream: http://twitch.tv/videogamesfor
Shing Yin Kohr Twitter: @sawdustbear
Eron Rauch Twitter: @eronrauch
Shing Yin Kohr Instagram: @sawdustbear
Eron Rauch Twitter: @eron_rauch
A Chef with a Passion for Volunteering
How did you get started with Food Forward and what drew you to Food Forward’s work and mission?
I found Food Forward while job searching when I moved back here to my hometown last year. I come from a professional cooking and farming background, so I was pursuing work in the local sustainable food movement. Food Forward offers so many ways to reach people with their three food recovery programs that I immediately tried them all, doing backyard harvests, farmers market gleans, and produce pop-up distributions.
What is your favorite part about serving as a Glean Team Leader and volunteer at Produce Pop Ups with Food Forward?
I love that both programs contribute to an “everybody wins” chain of events. Food that would otherwise have gone to the landfill goes to people in need. Farmers get tax deductions for their donations, and individuals with reduced access to healthy, fresh produce receive this nourishment through established receiving agencies and through direct distribution in their communities.
And when we do get to interact directly with the consumers at the produce pop-ups, I LOVE hearing about what people are planning to cook with their bounty of ingredients. Maybe it’s because I am chef, but it’s truly something special to witness families comparing recipe ideas, like how they stew their collard greens or what kinds of salsas they’re going to make with hot peppers.
What are some surprising things you have learned from volunteering?
I didn’t know about the Good Samaritan Act, a federal law enabling nonprofits to receive food donations in good faith without legal liability.
Are there any particularly powerful volunteering moments you’d like to share?
One of my favorite moments was last Friday in Inglewood, when one woman was so excited about her produce haul that she ran into the parking lot, put down her box, and peeled open one of these specialty bananas we were giving out. She was just so happy to taste it and extol its virtues to me!
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?
I work as a freelance food stylist. I also enjoy being outside (especially in my hometown), hiking, games, family, friends, animals, cooking, gardening, traveling, and eating.
Any words of wisdom you live by?
I try to be present and grateful always. Sometimes it’s very hard, but volunteering helps!
Summer Fruit Tree Care 101
7.10.18 — Longer days and hotter temperatures means fruit trees are in their active growing season. What are our fruit trees doing during the active growing season in a physiological sense? What do they need? Joanna Glovinsky, founder of LA’s Fruitstitute, a fruit tree care and education service for backyard growers, explains the Hows and Whys of summer fruit tree care.
Here at Fruitstitute our aim is to teach backyard growers how to understand their fruit trees or, as we put it, how to read your tree. Our approach is to take the science of fruit tree care out of the orchard and make it accessible to everyone who’s interested in growing great fruit in Southern California. Now that summer is here, the time is ripe to talk about how to ensure a sweet summer harvest.
HOW YOUR TREE MAKES FRUIT
To put it simply, the long days of summer mean your tree’s energy intake and output are at the highest. This is because increased daylight boosts photosynthesis, the process through which leaves convert energy from the sun into carbohydrates, which kicks off the metabolic processes of plants. (Remember that high school science class?) I’ll break this down even further so you can get the full picture.
The conversation starts with stomata, an outer layer of cells on a leaf responsible for photosynthesis. These cells are like millions of little mouths that open to feed during the day and close at night. In general, the more hours the sun hits the leaves on a tree, the more hours stomate stay open. As stomata open, water inside the leaf, which traveled up from the soil, evaporates. This physiological process is called transpiration. The water evaporating from each leaf on a tree creates a suction effect throughout the tree that pulls water and soluble nutrients from the soil up through the roots and into rest of the tree, a process called translocation. The longer the day, the longer the stomata are open, the longer transpiration and translocation occur. One thing worth noting is that stomata close when a tree needs to conserve water. So, on really hot days stomata will not be open as long and the tree does not lose more water than it can handle. Similarly, if a tree is underwatered, the stomata will not open.
Open stomata are also consuming energy from the sun (photosynthesis), which is then converted into carbohydrates, the energy the tree needs to grow and make its various parts. This is a very simplified description of the process called respiration. Chlorophyll, the stuff that makes leaves green, is the secret ingredient here. So, the longer the day, the greater the rate of respiration.
Taking the above into account, we can see that the leaves of a tree – their size, color, access to sunlight – are critical for the tree to carry out these physiological processes that allow for growth. We can also see that for these physiological processes to occur optimally, a tree needs sufficient water and sufficient soil nutrients.
HEALTHY TREES MAKE TASTIER FRUIT
Let’s put these pieces together and a picture of what a healthy fruit tree looks like in the summer should become clear.
A healthy tree has:
-A healthy canopy of foliage. Not too dense but not too thin, green in color throughout and leaves that are generally clean of debris and grime
-Good soil fertility
If any or all of these three things are off, the health, rate of growth and fruit bearing capacity of the tree is compromised. Moreover, the greater the degree to which any of these three things are off, the greater the tree’s health is compromised. That’s because without the right amount of photosynthesis, water and nutrients, your tree cannot properly produce or budget its resources. The result of which will ultimately lead to a sad tree with sad fruit.
For deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves and go dormant in winter, summer is particularly important. All the energy they create in summer is then stored during winter and used to create next year’s growth. Should the tree not produce enough leaves for example, or should these leaves be lacking in chlorophyll year after year after year, the tree will eventually fail (i.e. die).
THE LABOR OF SUMMER FRUIT
What does all this mean in terms of summer tree care? First, it implies that you should make sure your trees are being properly watered. Second, you need to consider your soil fertility. If you didn’t do it in the spring, make sure you apply your growing season soil amendments – compost/fertilizer and woody mulch – as soon as you can this summer season. If you see discoloration in leaves, you likely have a nutrition deficiency and should amend your soil.
That takes care of our feeding our roots. But what about our leaves? To answer that question, we first need to understand what your tree is growing in the summer. This is the same as saying, how does a tree allocate its energy resources in summer.
In summer, your tree allocates most of its chemical energy toward shoot and fruit growth. Root growth is reduced as a result, which is partly why summer is not the best season to plant a tree. New shoots are developing and as they do, they’re growing the flower buds for next season. For flower buds to form, leaves on these shoots need to photosynthesize sufficient amounts of chemical energy to make the stuff that forms flower buds. These new shoots have also added a new layer of foliage to your canopy that may be crowding or shading other branches. Too much shade and/or crowding means fruit on the effected branches cannot ripen as it should and the leaves cannot photosynthesize as they should. What do you do? The third component of summer tree care is summer pruning.
Summer pruning is all about optimizing light penetration throughout your canopy. When pruning your fruit tree, thin branches that have grown too tall and are shading/crowding the canopy and clean out all dead wood and debris. Because temperatures are hotter, bug populations are more prolific, so you don’t want to create too many wounds for bugs to enter with your pruning cuts. Summer pruning should remove only what is necessary. Similarly, don’t remove any bigger branches in the summer either. Doing so invites bugs and diseases. You could also wash down your canopy with water if you notice extra grime built up on the leaves, which hosts bugs. As always, know how to make proper pruning cuts before garnishing your blades.
Finally, to the fruit, the other thing your tree is allocating its energy toward growing in summer. Picture a skinny branch overloaded with fruit. If you leave all that fruit on that branch, the fruit may ripen but that branch only has so much energy to give to each fruit. However, if you were to thin some of that fruit, and leave one fruit per every few inches or so, depending on the size of the branch, that branch has that much more energy to allocate to each one of those fruit. Accordingly, the fourth and sweetest component to summer fruit tree care is fruit thinning. Fruit thinning not only makes your fruit tastier it’s also so important for the health of young trees, overbearing trees and for any branch being weighed down by the weight of its fruit. Wouldn’t you rather have a few superior fruits than a lot of inferior ones? You gotta thin it to win it.
By Joanna Glovinsky