On August 29th, I had a lively, informative, ninety-minute conversation with Gary Oppenheimer, of AmpleHarvest.org. Here are the highlights, in two installments. To learn more, please visit the AmpleHarvest.org website.
My guest today is
Gary Oppenheimer, master gardener, CNN hero, and founder of
AmpleHarvest.org. Welcome to
Gary at home by Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger
It's nice to finally meet you. My schedule has been busy and it's getting worse, because we just got the 501(c)3 letter [granting nonprofit status] from the IRS this week. AmpleHarvest.org has had a string of amazing luck. Naomi [Eisenberger, of The Good People Fund] who introduced us, has been sort of our fairy godmother from the very beginning. When we went to Google last year to get a grant, Google normally says it takes six months. Google liked AmpleHarvest.org so much they pushed us to the top of the list. They said, "Three-four weeks, you'll have an answer." Four days later, we had the approval.
When we did the iPhone app, I understand Apple normally takes six weeks to approve them, before they go up at iTunes. Our iPhone app was up in two weeks. We got the 501 (c) 3, which normally takes six plus months for the IRS to process, in nine weeks and one day.
So what does this say to you?
Probably either we're doing something right...
It's a good feeling. Not only the gardening community and the food pantry community and the media and everyone else is saying this is really, really good but it seems as though and I hope I'm not putting a jinx on it but bureaucrats in different environments also seem to be saying that it's a really, really good idea.
Lots of people have heard of AmpleHarvest.org but many people still haven't. So, if we're going to use this interview as an opportunity for you to bring people up to speed on what it is and how it works, maybe we could get started there.
me start with the elevator speech. That's probably the simplest thing and it just really, really
brings home the point. The United States has 49 million food-insecure people.
This is a fancy way of saying people who are either hungry or at real risk of
being hungry. America also has 40+million home gardeners who often grow more
food than they can use, preserve, or give to friends.
AmpleHarvest.org is designed to help those gardeners donate their excess produce to a neighborhood food pantry eager to receive it. That's the elevator speech. (And I know that it works because I'm a long distance cyclist and when I'm bike riding with someone, I only have a few minutes alongside them.)
The primary goal is to diminish hunger in America. There are secondary and tertiary goals it reduces pollution.
How does it do that?
I'm glad you asked me that question! And by the way, this is not just me speaking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now lists AmpleHarvest.org on their website as a resource to diminish food waste. The EPA is really getting on a big thing about wasted food and the environmental impact.