Community Partners Unite to Create Food Gleaning Operation
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) has awarded $50,000 to Leon Soil and Water Conservation District to launch the Leon Fruit & Nut Exchange. The project provides a collaborative, community-building solution to issues of food waste, hunger, natural resource conservation, and economic development within the local food system. The NACD awarded $2 million to 41 conservation districts across 25 states.
“NACD is exceedingly proud of these districts’ work to strengthen agricultural conservation efforts in communities that are typically underserved, and in many cases, considered food deserts,” said NACD President Lee McDaniel.
The Leon Fruit & Nut Exchange will focus food distribution efforts in Frenchtown, and other federally-designated food deserts across North Florida. An online community orchard exchange housed on www.LeonTrees.org, will allow homeowners to register a tree for gleaning and donate this unharvested food to urban farmer’s markets and distribution through Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
The project will coordinate individual and community volunteer groups to harvest the fruit and nuts from registered properties. The donations are tax deductible and homeowners receive additional benefits through participation, including workshops on gardening and fruit tree preservation techniques.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to bring the Leon Fruit and Nut exchange to Tallahassee,” said Tabitha Frazier, executive director of Leon Trees and a Leon Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. “It is the perfect synergy of two passions. Environmental Education coupled with a conservation collaboration which will improve our environment and serve to benefit the neediest in our community. The desire to bring this project to the citizens of Leon County has been discussed for over a year and thanks to the generous NACD grant we can make it a reality.”
Project partners include Leon Trees, The City of Tallahassee, The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Leon Soil and Water Conservation District, America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, the Tallahassee Food Network, and Frenchtown Farmers Market.
The Leon Fruit & Nut Exchange will host a booth at Frenchtown Farmers Market, the only local market where customers who receive federal food assistance can double their benefits to purchase the gleaned fruit and nuts. The market outlet will provide a sustainability stream for the Exchange to ensure its longevity, and will contributes job opportunities to the project.
“Not only will we be able to get food where it needs to go, we are creating a mechanism for neighborhoods to be known for their beauty and bounty, rather than crime rate or income level,” said Frazier. “The Leon Fruit & Nut Exchange is a new way to connect and celebrate our communities, and create a cohesive sense of place.”
Contact Tabitha Frazier for more information by emailing Tabitha@leontrees.org