Gleaning at Season’s End

Just when we thought the local harvest was done for the year, and we turned our attention to food for the upcoming holidays, Community Food Rescue (CFR) had a flurry of requests from local farms to glean their fields. In November, we organized four gleans that together yielded a bounty of 2,410 lbs. of produce that was distributed to four CFR network food assistance organizations.

Earlier in the year, after local farmers experienced damaging spring hailstorms, we were told there would be no apples this year. Yet, two farms asked us to come out and pick apples in November. Darlene Richardson, Farm Manager at Red Wiggler Community Farm, informed us, “even though there was some skin discoloration and some odd shapes, the apples were perfectly fine to eat.”

Volunteers from the Islamic Center of Maryland enjoyed gleaning apples, then included them as part of their food distribution program.

At about the same time, the Islamic Center of Maryland (ICM) reached out to their network of food providers asking for donations of surplus food for their upcoming free grocery distribution drive-thru that started in response to COVID-19. Susan Wexler, CFR Outreach Coordinator, contacted them about a gleaning opportunity. “Not only could we receive apples, but this was an amazing opportunity for our community to enjoy a day at a local orchard picking apples,” explained a delighted Adileh Sharieff of ICM. The gleaning day happened to be a school holiday, so 40 ICM volunteers—adults and kids–enjoyed apple picking, while observing strict social distancing protocols and wearing masks.  They filled 24 crates and brought them back to ICM, where the apples were distributed during the drive-thru event.

FarmAtHome Produce typically invites CFR volunteers to glean blueberries in early summer. In November, volunteers gleaned 1,200 lbs. of top-quality broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, pumpkins, and even chrysanthemums.

Top quality produce gleaned and distributed through the CFR network.

These were donated to two CFR network food assistance organizations—So What Else and the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF), which prepares cooked meals each week and distributes them free of charge.

We are so grateful to our local farmers, for growing our food and for donating any surplus that they are unable to sell. This provides much needed fresh, healthy food to our neighbors in need. Farmers can also receive a Maryland State tax credit  for donating fresh produce or meat to non-profit food assistance agencies.

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