The epiphany hit Arthur Morgan at the Farmers Market one Sunday morning.
Just before noon, when the market was to end, vendors would begin throwing away food they could not sell. Morgan watched as hungry people rummaged through the discarded food, even picking up produce that had fallen on the ground.
“I said, ‘Holy Moly! Look at all this food that is going to waste,'” Morgan says.
So Morgan, himself an urban farmer, devised a way to salvage some of the scraps by collecting the food in bins and transporting it himself by pickup truck to Our Daily Bread, a nonprofit that serves daily meals to people in need, and Shiloh United Church.
Over time he learned from fellow farmers that the market’s waste was just the tip of the iceberg and was nothing compared to what the farmers were unable to harvest, sell or use from the farms themselves.
That problem gave birth to Morgan’s fellowship, Gather Baltimore: Gaining Access To Healthy Eating Resources.
The goal of the project is to scale up his farmers market food collection efforts and find an efficient way to glean foods that would otherwise rot on the vines at area farms. Morgan and volunteers will harvest the perishable produce and distribute it to a diverse network of organizations that can use the food right away to feed the homeless and hungry or else jar, pickle and store it for later use.
Morgan envisions such gleaning could take place even during the barren months of winter by forming an agreement with grocery stores and big box stores such as Sam’s Club and Walmart.
“Walmart is the largest seller of organic product on the planet,” Morgan says. “Farmers’ seasons are only so long and they might have a bad year with drought or heat. But Walmart has food all year-round and there’s so much waste. My goal is to tap into that over-abundance and work with every place that needs food in Baltimore.”
Morgan has spent much of his adult life learning about food, land, gardening and farming. And he has always felt the need to share that knowledge with others. He built a garden on top of a popular city restaurant. He is the creator of a robust urban garden at Hamilton Elementary Middle School and helps teach the students about farming and healthy eating. He is also the founder of the Hamilton Crop Circle, a Baltimore City Urban Farming Organization
With the help of this fellowship, Morgan hopes he can help even more people learn about food sustainability. But even more importantly, he hopes fewer people will go hungry.
“This is a problem that has a solution; it’s pretty basic,” he says. “I want more people to know that this is viable and I hope more people will contact me who really need this produce. I want to get food to as many people as I can.”