We are working to create a holistic, healthy, economically vibrant and just food system within Colorado through gleaning, experiential education, and nonpartisan legislation.
One day, we hope we won't be needed and we can take down this website. Our hope is that we can contribute to a Colorado foodshed that becomes more mindful, humane, self-sustaining and connected. A Colorado foodshed where everyone has access to healthy, nutrient-dense food, where hunger pangs are in the past, and where markets value farmers for what they are: a cornerstone of our society.
Gleaning is the act of gathering leftover crops from farmers' fields or orchards after farmers have commercially harvested them. It is a practice rooted in the Old Testament where landowners would leave a section of their agricultural fields unharvested for the poor. Today, it is becoming an increasingly popular tool to make available more local, nutrient-dense calories to food-insecure individuals while also spotlighting the hard work and dedication of smallholder and family farms.
We harvest surplus agriculture from Colorado farms in order to reduce on-farm food loss and food insecurity throughout our state. To facilitate gleaning events and produce redistribution, we are building partnerships with smallholder and family farms and organizations capable of distributing nutrient-dense produce to those in greatest need. To harvest surplus crops, we are establishing a volunteer corps that encompasses a wide range of age and experience and are developing training for volunteers which incorporates nutrition and farming knowledge.
Food wisdom is knowing where your food comes from and how much blood, sweat, tears and toil it took to get it from seed to your spoon.
There is a significant gap today between producers (i.e., farmers) and most consumers. This disconnect from where our food comes from—the time, labor, and inputs that are required by farmers to feed you and me—is one of the root causes of the amount of food loss and food waste that we are witnessing today (40 percent of all food produced annually in the U.S. is never eaten).
As a society we are undervaluing our food. Therefore, we are promoting and working to increase food wisdom by organizing year-round, on-farm educational events—seeding and planting events and farm tours as well as numerous gleaning events—to encourage community members to step onto farms and rekindle their natural relationship with food and their knowledge of where food originates.
We perform research and collect empirical data in order to positively affect the legislative process. For instance, we have produced and shared a nationwide survey on gleaning aimed at produce farmers. We will also engage in interviews this year to help determine the current effectiveness of the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act that was introduced as law in 2015 to incentivize farmers to donate their surplus agriculture to food banks, food pantries, and other charitable organizations.
Access to healthy food is a basic human right.
The seeds for UpRoot were planted in the Fall of 2016 with two gleaning events set up on two unique farms in order to provide produce for Feeding the 5000 Front Range, a food-waste-awareness event held in downtown Denver in October 2016.
At Grant Farms CSA in Wellington, Colorado, six adults and seven children harvested roughly 1,000 pounds of produce in four hours. At Chatfield Farms, 10 adults harvested approximately 500 pounds of produce in about two hours.
At both farms, significant amounts of edible produce remained in the fields (due to factors that are often beyond the farmers' control). In fact, ReFED estimates that 10.1 million tons of edible produce remains on U.S. farms each year—less than five percent of this loss is currently being recovered.
Colorado is a state with 11 million acres of cropland and there are existing examples of organizations both throughout the country and in Europe that implement sustainable, year-round gleaning operations.
Since October 2016, the UpRoot team has been researching and reaching out to gleaning organizations from the UK to New England to the Pacific Northwest to compare organizational models and best practices in order to create a flexible model that will serve region-specific areas of Colorado.
Ultimately, we have undertaken this project to reduce both on-farm food loss and food insecurity statewide, increase awareness of and better support Colorado’s smallholder and family farms, reconnect Coloradans to their local foodshed and spread food wisdom throughout our culture.
Maggie, Ciara, and Dave