Dave Laskarzewski and Ciara Low co-founded UpRoot Colorado two years ago as a way to help both farmers and those facing hunger. KGNU’s Sarah Dalgleish reports that through their organization, volunteers harvest excess crops from local farms—a process known as gleaning. The produce is then donated to nearby food distribution sites.
“We try to get local food to local community members. We’ve found that’s really important to farmers. If they’re donating food, they’re excited to see it go to members of their own community who aren’t able to otherwise purchase and consume the food they grow,” says Low. Laskarzewski sees UpRoot as the link between people facing food insecurity and farmers who can’t sell their crops because of a lack of labor, lack of market, or because crops don’t fit the cosmetic standard of grocery stores.
“It’s estimated that 20 billion pounds of food remain unharvested on farms every year. Surplus is an opportunity.” he explains. Michael Moss is the farmer at Kilt Farm, one of the local farms UpRoot partners with.
“I’m trying to be more mindful about what can be salvaged. If there are components of the food in the field that can feed our community, that’s my mission—to feed the community the best food possible” he says.
This week, UpRoot volunteers are harvesting chard from Kilt Farm. Sarah Ditton is one of the volunteers and describes her experience. “I don’t usually see how food is grown and being the person picking it makes you appreciate a lot more how hard it is to get your food.”
Lazkarzewski hopes experiences like Ditton’s will lead to less food waste in the future. “I think reinstituting food wisdom within the community is a way to help people reconnect with how valuable food is. They can develop a new relationship and a new gratitude for it and for farmers,” he explains.
To learn more about UpRoot, you can visit their website uprootcolorado.org.