Abundance in 2014

Written by volunteer Pamela Stone:

Harvest Club volunteers and donors can wave goodbye to 2014 with the sweet knowledge that their work yielded a staggering 52,000 pounds of delicious and nutritious produce for families across Orange County.

This 52,000 pound figure represents the largest annual collection yet in our five years of work as the Harvest Club. Nine hundred active Harvest Club volunteers contributed more than 1,650 hours to yield 2014’s life-affirming bounty.

Congratulations and a hearty thank you to our organizers, pickers, and drivers, and to the generous land, tree, and garden owners who elected to share their crops.


In 2015 we’re looking forward to many new partnerships like the one recently begun with young people from Garden Grove’s Pacifica High School. Led by biology teacher Steve Doucette and Get Inspired’s own Nancy Caruso, the Pacifica High School group collected over 200 pounds of fruit and produce during one weekend in December. The group then distributed their harvest to local families through the Orange County Food Bank and a women’s shelter.


We welcome the new year and ponder: how many more partnerships…how many more pounds…how many more people picking produce and promoting prosperity? Potential!

Kindred Spirits Break Harvest Record!


With every harvest The Harvest Club program completes, we are able to provide more and more fresh produce to those who are food insecure in the Orange County community. Last year, we harvested over 50,000 lbs of produce, amounting to an average of over 4,000 lbs of backyard fruit delivered to food pantries, soup kitchens, children’s homes and senior centers. This year have already reached 40,000 pounds of produce collected and distributed to the hungry in only six months! We are very excited to have met this milestone and want to thank the volunteers from Kindred Community Church.

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We couldn’t have reached this number without their hard work harvesting in Villa Park this June. The Kindred Community Church’s youth group and group leaders teamed up with our wonderful Harvest Captain, Dave, to bring in the largest harvest since The Harvest Club program’s establishment in 2009. This team brought in 2,900 POUNDS OF ORANGES! 


This produce was delivered by our dedicated Harvest Captain to the Saddleback Church Food Pantry and will feed over 7,700 people in the area! We are so grateful for the helpful hearts and hands Kindred Community Church has offered us two years in a row and we look forward to future work together.

If you are interested in becoming a harvester or Harvest Captain with our organization please email us at volunteer@theharvestclub.org


Gleaning With Google!


This past Thursday was an exciting day for The Harvest Club program of The Orange County Food Access Coalition! We had the pleasure of being selected as a volunteer opportunity for our local Google chapter. Google employees came out to harvest at the Rancho Las Lomas Zoological Garden to harvest hundreds of pounds of oranges to feed the hungry in OC.


Google believes in giving back! During the month of June, Google Serve occurs, which is a week where Googlers will engage in community volunteer opportunities. Last year Google employees volunteered over 50,000 hours! Click here to learn more.


Our friends from Google got to pick fruit and interact with alpacas, llamas and even tigers on the gorgeous property in Silverado Canyon.

We are so grateful for all of the hard work our local Google Irvine harvesters brought to the field! Their efforts results in 535 lbs of fresh, organic oranges going to local Orange County food assistance establishments including South County Outreach, The Orange County AIDS Services Foundation and Families Forward.

A big THANK YOU to Google for gleaning with us!

If you know of any corporate groups who are interested in joining us in service please have them contact us at volunteer@theharvestclub.org

A Celebration of Pollination is Coming!

OC Food Access Coalition will be having a Celebration of Pollination on March 26th, 2014 at the new Frida Cinema in downtown Santa Ana. We will be hosting a private screening of Disneynature’s Wings of Life and also have the director in house for a Q&A session after the film. This is an opportunity for those in Orange County to experience the beauty of pollinators and learn more about how we can take preemptive measures to ensure the health and resilience of these creatures.


The Disneynature film Wings of Life was originally theatrically released in France under the title, Pollen and in the United Kingdom as Hidden Beauty: A Love Story That Feeds the Earth. Wings of Life was director by Emmy-nominated cinematographer and director Louie Schwartzberg. Louie is known for his stunning time-lapse cinematography. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the last 30 years, this artist has captured the beautiful secrets which occur between flowering plants and winged beings. Through Wings of Life, Louie introduces viewers to the more than 1,500 species of pollinators which bring us the fruits and vegetables we consume every day.

Everything from jars of golden honey to boxes of juicy oranges is created from the hard work of bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and bats. These productive creatures are responsible for 1/3 of the crops consumed in The United States. Honeybees alone produced an estimated $19 billion in produce in 2010. This “loves story that feeds the Earth” is threatened by things such as colony collapse disorder and habitat loss all over the world.

wings of life

At our private screening you will be able to ask Louie Schwartzberg and local experts about pollinators and also see what The Harvest Club is doing to help keep pollinators buzzing!

To learn more about our Celebration of Pollination & purchase tickets visit: www.ocfoodaccess.org/wol

(Above statistics were provided by www.fws.gov. To learn more about pollinators click here )

MLK Tree Scout Day


mlkdayOC Food Access Coalition will be having a Harvest Club event in honor of the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 18th, 2014. The Martin Luther King Day of Service was created in 1994 by congress, and has been led by the Corporation for National and Community Service ever since. The MLK Day of Service is a call for community action, allowing individuals to help solve social problems in their communities through service. It is placed at the beginning of the year to encourage citizens to start their new year by giving to others.

The Harvest Club will be bringing community members together in an effort to scout local food sources in Orange County neighborhoods on January 18th. The MLK Tree Scout Day will also enable individuals and groups to connect with locals about food security and local produce.A combination of faith-based, academic and social groups in the area have signed up to take part. Our wonderful volunteers will be scouting neighborhoods in Tustin, Orange and Santa Ana.

We are very excited to see the fruits of their labor and spread the message of healthy, sustainable, affordable food for all that OC Food Access Coalition is all about.

If you are interested in attending the MLK Day of Service Tree Scouting Day with us please send an email to volunteer@theharvestclub.org

For more information about the MLK Day of Service visit www.mlkday.gov

Fun Food Fact #8: Peanuts Can Blow Your Mind..


Peanuts are not just used to make peanut butter or peanut M&Ms, but are a key ingredient in some other interesting creations. Peanuts are used in biofuels, massage oil, and are even used in some insecticides because ants and other insects do not like the smell of peanut oil. Another use of peanuts which would seem unconventional to most is dynamite.


Dynamite is three parts nitroglycerine and one part stabilizer. Nitrogylcerine is created by nitrating glycerol. Peanut oil is a source of glycerol. Therefore nitrating peanut oil, can provide the explosive part of dynamite. Aren’t peanuts “the bomb”?

Food Fact #7: Can-berry Sauce


With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I figured I’d make this week’s food fact about a food item commonly enjoyed during turkey day. Many of us look forward to the comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, but cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite.

On Thanksgiving day, nearly 3/4 of Americans serve store bought cranberry sauce rather than homemade. Store bought cranberry sauce commonly plops out of the can in a jellied, unappetizing cylinder. Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season — enough to fill the entirety of the country’s largest water park, twice!


Next week, instead of feeding your family store-bought, processed cranberry sauce from a can, I encourage you to make it yourself! OC Food Access Coalition’s very own Program Coordinator, Christina Hall has contributed this simple yet delicious recipe for making homemade cranberry sauce:


1c water

1 bag cranberries

1 c sugar


boil together for 10 minutes

We at OC Food Access Coalition hope you have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!


Fun Food Fact #6: Foods to Dye For

Although the sixties have been behind us for a while now, some people still like sporting tie-dye shirts around. If you are ever interested in dying your own clothing, this fun food fact is for you. Instead of using a dye kit from a craft store, you can dye your clothing with all-natural dyes from your favorite foods!



Conventional dyes can contain heavy metals such as iron and tin. The dyes commonly used in the textile industry not only cause concern for the environment but could have health implications for the consumer as well. Some food items which can be used to dye clothing are blueberries, spinach and beetroot! These food items will dye your clothing  different shades of blue, green and pink or red.


Some unusual food items which you can use to dye your clothing include onion skins for a brown pigment, red cabbage for a red or pink color, and turmeric for a yellow shade.

For additional information on how to dye your clothes with your favorite foods visit planet-science.

Photos Courtesy of The Riley Eye and  Lionbrand.

Fun Food Fact #5: A Way to Open Palm-egranates

Pomegranates are one of the sweetest parts of the Winter season. Inside those tough, pink, spherical forms are refreshing, delicious seeds which bring flavor to any dish. The problem with enjoying the pomegranate is that it usually takes a lot of prying and picking to end up enjoying the little seeds inside of it.


Although we often hear,”anything in life worth having is worth working for”, there is finally an easy way to enjoy your pomegranate! In the video below you will see how with just your palm, a wooden spoon and a bowl, you can have pomegranate seeds in as little as 10 seconds! I think he should call it “The Palm-egranate Technique”, but that’s just me. Watch the video and enjoy your seeds with ease!

Food Fact #4: Where Jack-O-Lanterns Turn-ed Up

Halloween is fast approaching! People have acquired their frightening or fun ensembles and decorated their homes with various Halloween symbols.Everything from ghosts on strings to scarecrows with creepy faces to motion-activated animatronics can be found in the front yards and porches of your neighbors.The most distinguishable Halloween decoration however is surely the Jack-O-Lantern!


According to History.com, the art of carving Jack-O-Lanterns was brought to The United States by Irish immigrants who used to carve scary faces into turnips in their native land to keep away the folkloric figure Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack is a man whose ghost is said to be roaming around with a burning goal after trying to trick the devil (History.com). The pumpkin is native to North America and that is why Jack-O-Lanterns are now carved out of pumpkins instead of turnips.


Photo Courtesy of facweb.cs  

There are many ways to carve a pumpkin, and one artist Ray Villafane has become a world renowned master of pumpkin carving. He carves everything from zombies to football players!


To see more mind-blowing creations by Mr. Villafane, click HERE.