We measurably reduce on-farm surplus agriculture in Colorado, support the economic stability of farmers, and increase the nutritional security of our state’s residents.
A Colorado foodshed that is more mindful, humane, self-sustaining and connected, where everyone has access to healthy, nutrient-dense food, and where markets value farmers for what they are: a cornerstone of our society.
Increase nutritional security in Colorado by diverting locally grown, nutrient-dense surplus agriculture into the state's hunger-relief system
Support Colorado's smallholder and family farms via a trained volunteer gleaning corps, outreach through educational content and social media, quantitative and qualitative research, legislative-advocacy work and via collaboratively structured pilot projects addressing agricultural issues such as on-farm labor shortages in Colorado
Reinstall food wisdom in our Colorado communities by reconnecting Coloradans with where much of their food originates
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 Tanakh (or Old Testament) where landowners would leave a section of their agricultural fields unharvested as provisions for the poor and the marginalized. 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 gleaning corps that encompasses a wide range of age and experience; we train our volunteers which incorporates nutrition and farming practices.
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 the rest of us—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 also engaged in research in 2017 to help determine the effectiveness of the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act that was introduced into law in Colorado in 2014 to incentivize farmers to donate their surplus agriculture to food banks, food pantries, and Colorado's network of hunger-relief organizations.
Thanks to a grant from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF in 2018), we are extending our research into the amount of surplus agriculture remaining on Colorado farms growing produce for human consumption; the second stage of our study will wrap up late-Summer 2019.
You may access our initial report, here.
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 on-farm surplus agriculture, to champion and better support Colorado’s smallholder and family farms, to reconnect Coloradans to their local foodsheds and to reinstall food wisdom throughout our communities.
Ciara, Maggie, Helen and Dave