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 more than 33 billion pounds 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.
From October 2016 - December 2016, the UpRoot team researched and connected with 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 to serve region-specific areas of Colorado.
From 2017-2020, our Volunteer Gleaning Corps harvested more than 66,000 pounds-more than 450,000 servings-of nutrient-dense surplus produce, diverting these locally grown protective foods into area hunger-relief agencies. In 2021, we have gleaned and diverted to our hunger-relief partners more than 300,000 servings to date.
The Farm & Food Mobile Workforce pilot project -- a collaborative effort of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RFMU), Veterans to Farmers, the Good Food Collective and UpRoot to bring on-demand, supplemental and efficient labor to Colorado's producers-has harvested, to date, more than 900,000 pounds of commodity (i.e., cash) crops for farmers and ranchers.
In 2020, we were awarded our Letter of Determination and we continue our work to glean surplus protective foods, to champion and better support Colorado's smallholder and family farms, to increase the nutritional security of Coloradans and to reinstall cultural food wisdom throughout our communities.