Through the efforts of just over a dozen volunteers, thousands of pounds of fresh fruit are being gleaned from historical orchards planted more than 150 years ago to give to nearby residents who live with less than enough food. Individuals who give back to the community often stock the pantries of those who are food-insecure during the holidays, but it is a relatively new phenomenon for those who can’t afford groceries to be given expensive or organic produce.
One group putting forth efforts to feed the homeless with high-quality produce is Village Harvest. Village Harvest began with the efforts of Craig Diserns, who thought backyard produce could be gathered to give to the homeless and food-insecure. His backyard efforts have turned into a huge harvesting of persimmons this year, which were crated by volunteers and taken to families residing near the private property where the fruit was picked.
The Village Harvest van, which transported the harvested fruit, is equipped with ladders, telescoping pickers to reach the highest branches, crates, gloves, rakes, and more. It took 15 people only 3 hours to crate 900 pounds of fresh persimmons to give to the less fortunate in their community.
Since last year, Village Harvest has gathered more than 500,000 pounds of produce to deliver to local food shelters and hunger eradication programs. They are a bit different from other nonprofits in that they also preserve and restore old orchards for the benefit of future generations. So while the fruits gathered today can feed the hungry, they can also continue to do so in the future. It’s a sustainable, win-win model that more communities can adopt to eradicate hunger.
The non-profit receives some grants from the Good People Fund, but it also accepts sweat equity from volunteers and is always looking for people with land that can be saved for future harvesting.
Another organization helping to feed the homeless, the ‘Crazy Faith’ ministry led by Ben Charles has faced a complete shutdown for offering homeless and poverty-stricken individuals on the streets of Washington with meals. In response, NaturalSociety’s Anthony Gucciardi donated $2,000 to help the cause.
Following the donation, which will go towards providing 4,400 to 5,000 servings of food per month for those that need it, Ben Charles of Crazy Faith outreach wrote:
“Crazy Faith Outreach feeds approx 4,400-5,000 servings of food a month to any and all that have oxygen in their lungs…Over all, how blessed are we? Beyond words…”
These good-natured actions, while we are seeing the ludicrous crackdown by police and other government officials on community leaders that try to offer free food to the homeless who are desperately in need of sustenance.
Other agencies like Second Harvest also encourage backyard gardeners to share their bounty with local food pantries. So when you grow organic for your family, you are helping to instill food sovereignty. Sharing with others just takes those efforts to the next level, hopefully one day eradicating hunger for good.