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Residents to harvest goodwill

Locals will pick fruit from neighborhood trees, donate it to food pantries.

August 31, 2011|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • Madelyn Merchant (left) and Charlotte Leddie (right), both 10th graders and Girl Scouts in Troop #7021, harvesting oranges and tangerines from the Harb residence. (Photo courtesy Monica DeMoulin)
Madelyn Merchant (left) and Charlotte Leddie (right),…

This autumn, La Cañada Flintridge residents with fruit trees in their yards can grow some goodwill by participating in the local community center’s new Community Harvest program. By connecting homeowners with volunteer fruit-pickers, the program, which will get underway in a few weeks, aims to provide a local food bank with fresh produce while helping fruit-tree owners reduce waste.

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FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated from an earlier version to make a clarification in the lede.

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Monica DeMoulin, who is coordinating the program, said that it just makes sense.

“All this food is growing in our own backyard, and then we have neighbors in the town next door that don’t have enough food in their refrigerators. It was just screaming out as something that was right here in front of us,” said DeMoulin. “We just needed to put the pieces together.”

DeMoulin said she spearheaded an initial community harvest program in La Cañada Flintridge in April and May with her daughter, Olivia, as a community service project for Olivia’s Girl Scout Troop.

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During the initial project, the troop and other volunteers collected and donated more than 1,700 pounds of fruit to the Foothill Unity Center in Pasadena, according to DeMoulin.

Inspired by a similar project that was based in Monrovia, DeMoulin partnered with the Monrovia Community Center to bring the concept to this city.

“When I stumbled upon what the Monrovia Community Center was doing, I thought, ‘Wow, we could really do that here in La Cañada,’” said DeMoulin. “So we used their picking supplies, and they already had liability coverage.”

Kathie Harb said that since her yard contains approximately 15 fruit trees, having the community harvest volunteers visit her household was great.

“We have so much fruit and it falls to the ground — it was the perfect solution for the waste," said Harb. “[The volunteers] had it under control, they brought their own tools, own bags … it was a win-win situation.”

DeMoulin said it was this enthusiasm from participants that led to her coordinate another community harvest.

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