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Legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow once said, “The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.” One of those rare people who not only see but act on what was has clearly been invisible to most of us is Gary Oppenheimer. Since he founded AmpleHarvest.org, he has been named CNN Hero, has received major media coverage, has spoken at TEDx Manhattan, has been praised by First Lady Michelle Obama, and was even invited to the White House to meet the President.
What’s it all about? AmpleHarvest.org matches the food pantries used by more than 50 million Americans living in food-insecure homes with the over 40 million people who grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and nuts in home gardens-and who often have an excess. Prior to the site, the problem was that gardeners could not find local food pantries (also called food shelves, food closets, food cupboards or food banks in some areas) to donate to, as many were not online. AmpleHarvest.org provides a central repository for these pantries so that gardeners can easily locate those nearest them.
It is a singularly unique solution. And, as one might guess, it came from a singularly unique individual. “I am what my friends refer to as an aging hippy, and I refer to myself as a geek,” Oppenheimer told Organic Connections. “I’ve always been involved in the leading edge of technologies. I’m also a Rutgers Environmental Steward, a long-distance bicycle rider, a Master Gardener and town Environmental Commissioner. One of my board members referred to me as the perfect nexus of geek and social responsibility, which is fine by me because that is probably what AmpleHarvest.org is all about: a combining of socially responsible actions with technology.”