Story: Avis Hixon
Multimedia: Alexandra Malcolmson
Gather Baltimore is an Open Society Institute-Baltimore fellowship that received funding this year. It’s goal is to collect and glean fresh produce from farms and farmers markets to distribute to people in local Baltimore communities.
“[The goal is to] get as much food as I can to as many people that need it and help the farmers,”said Arthur Morgan, Director of Gather Baltimore. “There’s a lot of people that don’t have access to this.”
Morgan is a teacher at Hamilton Elementary Middle School. He works with kindergarten through eighth graders teaching them compositing, recycling and gardening.
“I’m trying to show them what they can do because there’s so much vacant property in the city,” Morgan said. “When they go home they see a different world but maybe they can create something different in their own neighborhood.”
Although Morgan just received $60,000 in funding for Gather Baltimore he has been working hard to help out farmers and bring fresh produce to the city for approximately 3 years.
Morgan says, “Everyone should have healthy food; that has a big effect on your entire life. It effects society.”
Gather Baltimore is working on “Operation Oliver” and going into the Oliver community in East Baltimore. Operation Oliver started about a year and half ago and is in the area that The Wire is based off of.
David Landymore is the Director of a veteran’s organization called The Sixth Branch. They are currently working on Operation Oliver to help build up the Oliver community. The main goal of Operation Oliver is to revitalize the neighborhood and build up a sense of community. Operation Oliver and Gather Baltimore are working together to address the lack of healthy food alternatives in the community.
Landymore and his organization have been working with Dr. Bernard Harris Senior Elementary School.
“ We’ve developed a lot of really helpful partnerships, creating opportunities for play,” said Landymore. “We want to get kids out of the street and into the grass.”
“The relationship we have with Gather Baltimore is outstanding, it’s perfect for us because at the end of the day what we try to do in the neighborhood is create energy. That energy is something that the homebuilder can build off of. It’s an attempt at revitalization without displacing anybody.”
These organizations, particularly Gather Baltimore, aren’t just helping out local communities but they’re also helping out farmers. They have to glean the crops and take them to the communities. Gleaning is collecting leftover crops from farmer’s fields. In this case, they are gleaning the excess crops that weren’t collected from the past market season.
One volunteer explained how the farmers benefit from this.
“Farmers have to plant what they think what they’re going to be able to sell plus [extra], in case anything goes wrong or in case they actually are more successful than they think they’re going to be. But people don’t sign up for C.S.A.’s as much anymore so these farmers are left with crops that will rot and go to waste. Our job is to get it and get it out to the communities.”
A C.S.A. is Community Supported Agriculture where, at the beginning of a growing season, people can sign up to pick up food every weekend at the farmer’s market or the farm. This can help farmers know how much to plant and grow which would greatly help them out since every year about 40% of food from farms, farmers markets and grocery stores goes to waste.
With 14% of Americans going to bed hungry every night and these farmers that have all this excess food, Morgan has found something that can help a lot of people out.
Gather Baltimore doesn’t just give families a meal they give out enough fresh produce to last a family an entire week. Right now they can only get to the Oliver community on the third Sunday of every month but they are in their first year and still working things out.