Community Food Rescue (CFR) has launched the second year of its gleaning initiative. Gleaning is the harvesting of food that would otherwise go unpicked. The crop is left unharvested when there is so little left behind that it is not economical for the farmer to harvest. Or, in the case of “pick your own farms,” the pickings are too slim for customers.
Our first glean of the season was at Butler Montessori School in Darnestown. With school coming to a close, there was limited staff or student time for pulling the kale so that summer crops could be planted. Two Montgomery County Master Gardener volunteers (one of whom is also a CFR food runner) and a Manna/CFR volunteer, heeded the call from Susan Wexler, CFR’s Outreach Coordinator, to help with harvesting the kale. CFR was invited to help by Bridgette Downer who runs the farm program at Butler Montessori and who is also a CFR donor farmer. Bridgette operates Chicken in the Woods Farm.
After we pulled the kale, a very helpful group of 7th graders stripped the leaves from the stems, which went to feed the chickens and into the compost pile. Meanwhile, Susan explained a bit about CFR’s mission and food insecurity in Montgomery County. Twenty–five pounds of fresh, organic kale was delivered by a CFR volunteer food runner to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless’ Safe Haven home for Veterans. We were invited to return to Butler Montessori for another glean in July.
Our second glean was at Butler’s Orchard — no relation to Butler Montessori! Two Master Gardeners and two CFR/Manna volunteers joined Susan for this work. In just a few hours, they harvested 82 pounds of beautiful strawberries, which were delivered to Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg. The school staff was thrilled. CFR provided them with berries last year and it was a special treat for the students. CFR collaborates with Pam Hosimer of the University of Maryland (UMD) Extension Food Supplement Nutrition Program to arrange for these relationships with MCPS.
We are grateful for this collaborative effort between CFR, Master Gardeners, and UMD Extension and are particularly thankful to our farmer donors.
We have at least four more gleans scheduled this summer and fall thanks to Farm At Home (blueberries); Red Wiggler Community Farm (sweet potato vines), and Butler’s Orchards (apples). We invite volunteers—adults and school age kids –to join a glean event; contact Susan at: email@example.com
Maryland Farmer Tax Credits Available for Food Donations
Maryland farmers who donate their surplus unsold food—through gleaning opportunities or direct donation—can claim a tax credit. Effective July 1, 2019, all Maryland farmers are eligible to claim such a credit for donating their surplus unsold food to organizations that provide supplemental food to people who are food insecure. This expands the Farmer Tax Credit pilot program of 2017 statewide and offers further incentive for farmers. Manna Food Center, Community Food Rescue, and the Capital Area Food Bank are just a few examples of non-profit organizations that are Certified Tax Credit Administrators. Farmers anywhere in the state can donate food through these organizations and claim the credit on their taxes, up to $10,000/year. For more information, see CFR blog post or contact: Stone Slade at the Maryland Department of Agriculture firstname.lastname@example.org.