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It's a seemingly simple way to fight food waste.

Jillian Kramer
Updated August 02, 2017

Food waste is a big problem. In fact, a one-fifth of our food supply ends up as garbage. Some of that waste comes from simply buying too much at the grocery store. Some of it comes from over-ordering at restaurants. And some food waste comes from our own backyards.

That's right: when you grow a vegetable garden or fruit tree in your backyard, anything you neglect to pluck from their vines or branches or the soil is also food waste—and estimates show 11 billion pounds of unpicked veggies and fruit rot away on our properties each year.

Luckily, one Boise-based website is out to fight the latter problem with a simple solution: it connects backyard gardeners hauling in surpus produce to people who are willing to harvest it.

Dubbed Treasure Valley Harvest, the new site was the brainchild of Boise High School teacher Salah Elkatanani and his wife, Elizabeth, according to TV station KIVI. "Backyard food waste is one of those things we don't often think about, don't often realize that plants produce so much," Salah Elkatanani told the station. So they built the website to connect people—the haves and the harvesters, as they're called—with easy-to-fill-out forms. To fill one out, "have" participants must say what they have and how much, while "harvesters" can scan those forms and volunteer to come pick the produce that piques their interest.

The Elkatananis said the idea for the site came to them after they spotted an apricot tree with loads of unpicked fruit. The confident couple knocked on the apricot tree owner's door and asked if they could pick the unused fruit, and the owner happily obliged.

"I thought, why not kind of make this available to more people?" Elizabeth Elkatanani told the TV station. And one day, they may even try to make the food available at food banks.

Treasure Valley Harvest is not the first website of its kind to connect growers with people willing to pick produce that would otherwise go to waste. In San Diego, Produce Good takes volunteers who will pick home growers' unused fruits and vegetables and deliver them to area food banks. In Los Angeles, Food Forward runs a similar program—though it extends to picking unused produce from backyards to markets and orchards, too. And Ample Harvest, a nationwide website, helps connect home gardeners to food pantries in need.