Whole Crop Harvest

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Journal Articles

Making a market for on-farm food loss: Exploring food banks as a market for Southeastern produce   (2020)

This study examines the prevalence of market-based relationships between farmers and food banks in the Southeastern U.S. to better understand the potential that food banks  hold as a reliable market channel for farmers’ surplus and cosmetically imperfect pro­duce. The authors collected data on market rela­tionships between food banks and produce farmers through interviews with food bank operators in 13 southeastern U.S. states. Based on interviews with 24 individuals representing 16 food banks (representing 1.6 billon pounds of distributed food in 2018, of which 265 million was fresh produce), food bank associations, and regional nonprofit produce distributors serving food banks, we find payments from food banks to farms to be a widespread prac­tice. Eleven of the 13 states (and 14 of the 16 food banks) reported paying growers either directly or via Feeding America’s online Produce Matchmaker system. Interviews also revealed sourcing manag­ers’ expectations that compensating growers could be a “win-win” strategy for both food banks and growers. Such practices are supported by infra­structure commitments from Feeding America, a network of food banks and pantries which includes 80% of food banks in the U.S.  

Farmer harvest decisions and vegetable loss in primary production (2019)

The topic of food loss and waste has risen in importance since the revelation that an estimated 40% of food in America is never consumed. Losses at the field level, however, are not well understood, and economic and growing conditions that dictate decisions made by fruit and vegetable growers can determine how much food is left unharvested. Many strategies have been suggested to reduce food loss and waste, but their development has been informed by concerns at the consumer level, and may not motivate growers to reduce losses.


Estimating on-farm food loss at the field level: A methodology and applied case study on a North Carolina farm (2018)

Accurate estimation of on-farm losses for fruits and vegetables can inform ongoing national food loss and waste discussions and farm-level business decisions that hold potentially positive impacts for farm viability and resource-use efficiency. This paper describes a straightforward methodology for field-level measurement and demonstrates its utility on six vegetable crops harvested in 13 fields of a 121-hectare North Carolina vegetable farm.


Field measurement in vegetable crops indicates need for reevaluation of on-farm food loss estimates in North America (2018)

The available estimates of edible produce lost in the field are based on assumptions and estimates, rather than field data. Therefore, this project aimed to measure losses in the field in order to understand if estimates are accurate. Sixty-eight fields of eight vegetable crops were evaluated on nine North Carolina farms during the 2017 production season, using a sampling and scaling method.



  • Is the Harvest Over When the Price Drops? Deciding to Stop When There’s Still a Crop. Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference. Savannah, Georgia. January 10-13 2019.
  • Supply Chain Strategies to Manage Farm-Level Food Loss. National Direct Agriculture Marketing Summit. September 15-18, 2018. Washington, D.C.
  • Field Measurement and Qualitative Inquiry Indicate Need for Reevaluation of U.S. On-farm Food Loss Estimates. No Food Left Behind Conference, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California, Mar. 2, 2018.
  • Measuring and Estimating Food Loss in North Carolina Vegetable Crops. USDA-ERS Workshop on Farm-to-Retail Food Loss in Produce, Washington, DC. Dec. 12, 2017.
  • Opportunities to Market a Wider Range of Produce Quality. Vegetable & Fruit Expo, North Carolina Vegetable Growers’ Association Annual Meeting, Myrtle Beach, SC, Nov. 28, 2017.
  • Whole Crop Harvest: Increasing Farmer Returns and Reducing Food Waste.  National Value-Added Agricultural Conference, Little Rock, AK.  Nov 15, 2017.
  • Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic’s Building Infrastructure for Farm Level Surplus Working Group, webinar, July 18, 2017.
  • Glean Machine Used at North Carolina 4-H and Society of St. Andrews farm gleaning events, September and October, 2019.
    Putting Dollars to Waste: Estimating the Value of On-Farm Food Loss. Agriculture & Applied Economics Association annual meeting, July 22-23, 2019.