This fall, Durango locals will engage in an effort to reduce food sources for bears in town, increase local food production and raise money for the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center.
Purpose of Harvest
The Crop Mob volunteers will travel around Durango and harvest fruit from trees on properties in town, said Rachel Landis, the coordinator for the Environmental Center.
The Environmental Center, in association with Bear Smart Durango and Cream Bean Berry, began organizing the Crop Mob event in the fall of 2013 to help address the issue of bears finding and becoming habituated to food sources in Durango, Landis said.
The Environmental Center will combine efforts with the local business Cream Bean Berry, an ice cream producer, and donate the harvested fruits to be made into ice cream, she said.
Zane Slutsky, an icecreamist at Cream Bean Berry, said this effort by the Environmental Center is good because it helps local residents to see where their food comes from.
It is helpful when they are able to get product from this harvest to help them create their product, he said.
“We like to get our hands on the best product we can, and when people bring it to us and help process it, we see the process come full circle,” said Slutsky.
Bear Smart Durango has also teamed with the Environmental Center to help raise awareness about the issue of addressing food sources for bears, Landis said.
Education and Social Justice
Crop mobs are not limited to Durango but rather are an effort happening across the country, Landis said.
However, the program in Durango is taking a unique approach compared to those in other towns, she said.
“FLC and the Environmental Center have said its not just about getting the food out,” Landis said. “It’s also about educating this whole population. It’s also about social justice and making sure that everyone has access to local food, so I think we’re kind of unique in that way.”
When they go door to door, most Durango residents are willing to give their apples to the Crop Mob participants when they hear about the ways that it can benefit the area as a whole, she said.
The ultimate goal of this project is to educate the eaters, which creates the demand and increases the supply coming from local food sources, Landis said.
“The small vision right here right now is that we’re going to make some dank apple pie ice cream made from local apples, harvested by students, and at Apple Days on October 5, this ice cream will be up for grabs,” she said.
All of the funds from the sale of the ice cream that these apples create will go directly to the Environmental Center at FLC and help to do more work like this in the future, she said.
Environmental Center Page: http://www.fortlewis.edu/environmentalcenter
Creamery using gathered apples: http://creambeanberry.com/site/
Fruit Gleaning info: http://bearsmartdurango.org/community-resource/help-with-picking-fruit/