Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Food Forward Gleans the Larchmont Farmers Market

Food Forward Volunteers ready to glean the Larchmont Farmers Market
Food Forward volunteers ready to glean the Larchmont Farmers Market

Ever wonder what happens to all the produce that doesn’t sell at the  Larchmont Farmers Market on Sundays?

Thanks to Food Forward, a volunteer-driven non-profit that gathers produce farmers want to donate and gives it away to food pantries to feed hungry people who don’t have access to farm produce, it doesn’t get thrown out.   Each week, the Larchmont Farmers Market extras are donated to Los Angeles Community College (LACC), which sets up a pop-up market for  qualified low-income local students, who pick up the food on Sunday afternoons.

Food Forward uses the term “glean” to describe what they do, explained Leah Boyer, Farmers Market Recovery Program Manager for  Food Forward. Historically, the term glean referred to the practice of collecting the leftovers after a crop was harvested or allowing others to come in and collect what was not economically feasible for farmers to harvest. In some early cultures it was seen as a form of social welfare.

Food Forward was started by Rick Nahmais in 2009, after he noticed the incredible waste of fruit dying on trees. He started harvesting fruit trees in backyards in the San Fernando Valley and donating the produce to local food pantries.  His organization has grown over the years and now collects leftovers from wholesalers as well as farmers’ markets. Food Forward has recovered more than 18 million pounds of produce since 2009, according to the counter on it website, and it has gleaned more than 55,000 pounds of produce from the Larchmont Farmers Market since they started two years ago.

“Our volunteers meet at the end of the market, hand out our boxes to farmers who want to donate; then we weigh each box and give a tax receipt to each farmer at the end of the year showing how much they have donated,” said Boyer. “Then, we give the produce to LACC volunteers, who give the food away at their Sunday pop-up market on campus. All the food is given away to some very grateful people.”

The match between Larchmont Farmers Market and LACC came about thanks to Heidi Johnson, a Food Forward volunteer who was also a student at LACC. Johnson has now graduated but the donation will continue. However, Food Forward is looking for a space on Larchmont Blvd or very nearby, where they can store a few items they use every week at the market. Currently their supplies are at LACC, but Boyer is trying to find about four square feet for boxes and a small hand cart closer to the market. If you’re interested in helping Food Forward with space, or as a volunteer for about two hours on a Sunday, it would be greatly appreciated. There are lots of ways to get involved. Find out more about Food Forward at


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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