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Hayward commuity garden finds a solution to get rid of unwanted foods

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Hayward commuity garden finds a solution to get rid of unwanted foods

PHOTO BY ERIKA MARTINEZ/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY ERIKA MARTINEZ/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY ERIKA MARTINEZ/THE PIONEER

By Erika Martinez, STAFF WRITER

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On Saturday afternoons, Hayward Calif. resident, Rick Hatcher, goes around the Hayward Farmers market to collect leftover and unwanted food from vendors to give back to the community.
Rick Hatcher is the elected president of the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, H.A.R.D., an independent special use district that provides park and recreation services for over 280,000 residents. He is also a Farmers Insurance agent and runs the Eden Urban Farms, his urban farm consulting business.
“The glean food is a food that they can’t repackage up and put back into their trucks and resell,” said Hatcher. Gleaning is the collection of leftover foods after they have been sold and are no longer seen as valuable.
Hatcher assures that the food that he collects from these vendors are still edible and in great condition. Just because the food has been bruised up or may not be aesthetically pleasing to look at it does not mean it is of lesser value.
“We’ve been doing this for about nine years, and I do it most Saturdays that I am in town, at least three Saturdays a month,” said Hatcher.
Once the vegetables and fruits are collected, he brings them to Paradise Garden where people wait to collect and take them home.
“Some days we have three to five people, some days we have 10 people and some days we have two people,” said Hatcher.
Hatcher collects between 300 and 600 pounds of food from the Hayward Farmers market on a typical summer weekend.
The Paradise Garden, Hazel Garden and Sunset Farm are all run by Eden Urban Farms.
These community gardens were grown in vacant lots and abandoned homes. These gardens have flourished with the help of Hatcher’s colleagues and Hayward residents.
“The Sunset House once had about 10 feet of garbage in the front yard. It was cleaned up and we put a giant mural with butterflies and bees,” said Hatcher.
He also mentioned that they turned a former drug house into the production farmhouse filled with all sorts of plants, foods and chickens.
Eden Urban Farms accepts sponsorships and partnerships and is currently sponsored by Mandela Partners, a non-profit organization aimed to work with the community and businesses to improve local health.
The organization has also teamed with local schools, such as, San Lorenzo and Tennyson High School to encourage students to get more involved in their community.
Hatcher has created community engagement through his gleaning project and the creation of community gardens.
“Food breaks down walls, it’s fun to do together,” he says.

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Hayward commuity garden finds a solution to get rid of unwanted foods