Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hello Fruit Trees!

Wrote an article for the SM Observer on the Food Forward at Clementine.

Hello Fruit Trees!

Food Forward celebrates coming to West LA at Clementine Restaurant

FoodForward, Southern California’s largest urban gleaning organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, is coming to the Westside!
After watching Food Forward’s signature Fruitanthropy (the picking, donating, and distributing of fruit for humanitarian purposes) blossom across the San Fernando Valley over the last two years, proud supporter Annie Miler of Clementine is holding this “Coming Out Party” to introduce Food Forward’s expanding work and new partnership with the Westside Food Bank. “I'm really excited to have the chance to help spread the word about Food Forward and the great work they do,” said Annie Miler, Owner and Chef of Clementine Restaurant.
Food Forward’s mission is to engage volunteers to harvest locally grown food from private homes and public spaces, which is then distributed to local food pantries and organizations serving those in need.  Food Forward convenes at properties they have been invited to and harvest their excess fruits and vegetables, donating 100% to local food pantries across southern California.  Since forming in 2009, they have harvested/rescued over 370,000 lbs of fruits & vegetables at hundreds of properties with 100% of what they pick going to feed the hungry
The one-year Medfly quarantine blocked Food Forward from coming to Santa Monica and other Westside towns, but since being recently lifted, in the fall of 2010, the organization has been raring to go in the coastal communities.  The Clementine party is the Debutante Party letting the Westside know that this do-gooder organization is making it over to their side of the Hood.  “Having seen what incredible harvesting our volunteers have accomplished in the Valley over the last two years, me and the whole Food Forward Team can’t wait to roll up our sleeve with the volunteers and property owners in West LA,” said Rick Nahmias, Founder and Director of Food Forward.
Clementine and Chef Annie Miler’s long history of being a community-based restaurant makes it a natural fit to launch Food Forward’s next chapter and partnership with the Westside Food Bank. For this celebration Clementine Restaurant will hold an exclusive fundraising evening previewing their full menu of gourmet grilled cheese from their 10th Annual Celebration of National Grilled Cheese Month, a delectable evening of eats and treats. “The thing I love most about my job is the sense of community,” said Annie Miler, Owner/Chef of Clementine.  “Among our staff, in our neighborhood, and with the loyal clientele we serve.  That's why it was such a natural fit to work with Food Forward.  Bringing people together, organizing them to help feed others in our community, while hopefully nourishing their own spirit.  Food Forward is the purest example of what we aspire to do at Clementine."
Along with an evening of feasting on Clementine’s Signature Grilled Cheese Menu and Desserts and Fresh Picked Citrus Fruit Spritzers Food Forward will be holding a Westside based silent auction that includes such items as a $100 gift certificate to Santa Monica hot spot Basement Tavern, one month free Yoga from Yoga Works, and a signed and framed photo and book from Food Forward founder Rick Nahmias, an acclaimed photographer who’s works have toured over three dozen national museums, universities, and cultural centers across the U.S., and have been presented on the floor of the U.S. Congress.
For those who can’t make the event Food Forward is always looking for people to get involved both as volunteers and property owners.  They are always looking for energetic volunteers interested in working in any aspect of their organization.  There are opportunities for all interests, including fruit picking at both small properties and large orchards, community outreach, volunteer leadership, property scouting and coordinating.  Food Forward will supply all that is needed to complete a harvest, but when picking they ask that one wears sturdy closed toed shoes and bring your own gloves and gardening sheers if you have them. There’s no need to have any prior harvesting experience.  Inner Childs beware!  A couple of hours of picking fruit and climbing trees has the potential to make you absolutely giddy! 

Food Forward is also looking for any Westside properties with mature fruit trees, multi-tree private orchards or gardens with excess fruit and vegetables to share with those in need in their own community: 100% of all fruit harvested by Food Forward is donated to local food pantries, for Santa Monica properties it would be the Westside Food Bank.  All fruit donors will receive a charitable contribution tax receipt.
The Do-Gooders have come to town; Santa Monica and its Westside neighbors take note.  And they come bringing Grilled Cheese!
For more info on Food Forward check out foodforward.org
Kat Thomas is a food writer who is psyched that one of her favorite do-gooder organizations is making it over to her hometown.   You can check out more of her writing at edibleskinny.com