How You Can Help - Gleaning in the field or at a farmer’s market
A surprising amount of crops are not economically reasonable for farmers to harvest or simply do not sell when they are in their prime. These crops often end up in the compost pile or decompose in the field. Gleaning, the act of harvesting extra crops, is a very productive use of valuable volunteer time. With a small group of dedicated gleaners, hundreds of pounds of fresh produce can be gathered in a very short amount of time.
What to expect when gleaning a field:
Gleaning opportunities are often very short notice. You’ll get a call from your local Maine Harvest for Hunger coordinator sometimes only a day or two in advance. Volunteers are asked to wear appropriate footwear (closed toes) and bring a pair of work gloves, a snack, and water. Any time you can contribute during a gleaning day is very appreciated. Remember, if volunteers don’t show up to glean, these crops will likely not make it to anyone’s table.
How to participate in farmer’s market gleaning:
- Your local Maine Harvest for Hunger coordinator will connect with a local market to determine if farmers are interested in having gleaners pick up.
- When they have found a market to glean, they’ll establish a schedule for you to sign up to cover certain market days.
- Come to the market with plenty of boxes and/or grocery bags (better to have too many than not enough). If you know that you might be collecting meat or dairy, bring a cooler and some ice.
- Arrive 10 minutes before closing. If you’re a little early, walk around to let the vendors know that you are there to glean. Please be especially respectful to vendors working with customers.
- Introduce yourself as a Maine Harvest for Hunger volunteer and ask vendors if they have anything that they would like to share. It’s important to keep your pitch short and sweet. Some vendors prefer you to leave boxes/bags for them to fill as they pack up.
- Mark the filled bags/boxes with the vendor name so that you can later record how much each vendor donates.
- Weigh (or estimate weight) the donations for each vendor and report this information to your local coordinator on a weekly basis.
- Your local Maine Harvest for Hunger coordinator will keep track of the donations and will send a thank you letter at the end of the year.