The harvest season is well upon us! We are scurrying about with dedicated volunteers in the midst of our busiest time of year. Our mission: saving crops left without buyers before the hard freeze sets in. Food pantries and shelters await the fresh food to meet ever-increasing need. We are thankful for an abundance of gleaning opportunities - getting everything would be impossible but each year we get better at collecting more.
Halfway through November our farm gleaning totals are higher than last year, largely due to improved organization. We are fast approaching 1,000 bushels gleaned, or more than 30,000 pounds. We plan to work deep into December, making it quite likely that we'll exceed last year's 39,000 pounds. A donated cargo van makes our deliveries much more efficient.
A shift in our organization's structure has also had a major impact on our gleaning capacity. Naming Laurie "Duck" Caldwell Executive Director more accurately reflects her ongoing contribution to the Gleaners and frees up Oakes to concentrate on the value he adds as President of the Board. We also brought on two fantastic interns to help with gleaning trips and our online presence.
A full vanload of gleanings holds some 50 bushels or about 3000 servings of, at this time of year, kale, collards, butternut squash, and apples. So far this year we have delivered over 50,000 servings of local fresh food throughout the Boston area.
Gleaning is an ancient concept experiencing a revival because it makes sense. Gleaning addresses food inequities by bringing local, sustainably grown produce to those without access. Sourcing fresh produce for food pantries and shelters alleviates hunger. Local farmers are supported in sustainably managing acreage. Because there are so many local farmers, we are able to glean and deliver, cost-effectively, within a small geographical area - maximizing the return on our carbon footprint.
The concept of gleaning is simple, but the reality includes the costs of transportation, insurance, and our very small staff. We are hearing from more people and organizations looking to get involved. In October, BAG partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture in launching a statewide gleaning initiative. To kick it off, Governor Deval Patrick enthusiastically gleaned carrots with us at The Food Project!
As you and your family prepare to give thanks for the harvest, please consider supporting us so that everyone may be fed by the bounty.
To the Harvest!
Duck Caldwell, Executive Director Oakes Plimpton, Board President
Boston Area Gleaners, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your contribution is tax deductible.