Fruit trees are abundant in our neighborhood. Our mild climate allows even the most unskilled gardener to enjoy a wide range of fruit throughout the year. But often the fruit is left on the tree to rot, which is not good for the tree or for our less fortunate neighbors who could be enjoying the fruit.
Enter Rick Nahmias, a professional photographer, writer and filmmaker who noticed all the fruit around him while taking long walks with his dog. Between his formal training as a cook and his work in film focusing on farm workers, it was a natural extension for Nahmais to find a way to combine his interests to help others.
Food Forward calls itself a “gleaning” organization inspired by the biblical tradition of instructing farmers to leave the corners of their fields unharvested, so that the food might be picked by the less fortunate. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system
According to their website, since Food Forward got its start in early 2009, volunteers have harvested approximately 575,000 pounds of fruit from more than 300 sites. Food Forward donates nearly 100 percent of the fruit to more than 20 food pantries and agencies throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the first of which was SOVA.
That’s “2.3 million servings of fruit,” Rick Nahmias, the organization’s founder and executive director, said proudly. “And of course every week that goes up.”
Currently, the group organizes about 15 to 20 picks each month — most often in Northridge, Granada Hills, Chatsworth, Reseda and other areas of the San Fernando Valley. Before the region was developed into today’s suburban sprawl, it was nearly all orchards, and thousands of fruit trees in residents’ yards still yield an overabundance of citrus year round, thanks to the warm climate.
Now they are reaching out across the city including Hancock Park, Windsor Square and surrounding neighborhoods. If you or your neighbors have fruit trees that need “gleaning,” contact Food Forward at www.foodforward.org.
This is the season for giving and it coincides nicely with the time of year to harvest citrus!