Our Mission: Boston Area Gleaners, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing surplus farm crops for people in need.
How We Do It: We distribute high-quality, locally grown produce to food banks, pantries, and meal programs by working closely with farmers, providing volunteer labor to harvest what would otherwise be plowed under.
Our Goal: To build a sustainable supply chain of nutritious surplus produce from local farms to people in need.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Gleaning?
Gleaning is the act of collecting surplus crops from farmers' fields. In ancient times, landowners invited peasants onto their fields after the main harvest to take what was left over. Gleaning was a method of improving food security for the poor.
Today, Boston Area Gleaners practices the same method. We organize groups of volunteers to harvest surplus crops from local farms. (There are many reasons why farmers have surplus crops to donate--click here to learn about them.) The high quality, nutritious fruits and vegetables are then distributed to Boston area food pantries, meal programs, and low-income markets.
How can I get involved?
How much food does Boston Area Gleaners glean each year?
In 2016, we gleaned over 420,000 pounds of 60 crop types from 53 farms in eastern Massachusetts. We distributed these 1.68 million four-ounce servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to our partner hunger relief agencies that serve our food-insecure neighbors. Since we began 2004, we have gleaned over 1.2 million pounds of fresh local produce for the benefit of people in need.
How old is Boston Area Gleaners?
Boston Area Gleaners was founded in 2004 by Oakes Plimpton, and incorporated as an official non-profit in 2007.
How is Boston Area Gleaners funded?
We receive funding from individual donors, foundations, and local businesses. We also accept a nominal storage and handling fee from our regular recipient agencies, which helps us cover the cost of fuel and delivery labor. For a list of our recent supporters, click here. To read our Annual Report, click here.
Interested in donating? Check out our donation page, consider buying some BAG SWAG, and/or utilize your employer's matching gift program.
Who does Boston Area Gleaners partner with?
We currently partner with over 70 farms in eastern Massachusetts, and the list is always growing. If you are a farmer who wants to donate produce, please click here to learn more.
Gleaned produce is distributed among 500+ hunger relief agencies in eastern MA. Our distribution partners (Food for Free, Greater Boston Food Bank, and Merrimack Valley Food Bank) deliver gleaned food to many of these organizations, but we also provide fresh produce to over a dozen local food pantries, as well as Daily Table, a low-cost market in Dorchester. If you work for a hunger relief agency that would like to receive produce, please click here.
What type of produce does Boston Area Gleaners harvest? How long is the gleaning season?
If it grows in eastern Massachusetts, we probably glean it! We glean fruits and vegetables (no animal products). What we glean during a given time of year depends on what is available at our partner farms. The gleaning season typically starts in June and often lasts well into January of the next year. Our slowest months are February - May. The conditions of each individual growing season might create a surplus of one crop but a dearth of another.
You can also visit the Information for New Volunteers webpage for more FAQs about how we organize volunteers and work with farmers to capture their surplus crops.
Are volunteers allowed to take home produce from gleaning trips?
On some gleaning trips, volunteers may take home limited amounts of surplus or substandard product that we cannot otherwise distribute. Volunteers must ask the Gleaning Coordintor if the can harvest for personal use on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, the decision will be made by the farmer and communicated to our staff. Volunteers who can afford to purchase produce from the farmer at their farm stand or farmers market are encouraged to do so.
Can community or corporate groups set up a volunteer date?
Yes! Please visit our Volunteer Group webpage to learn more about scheduling a service workday for your group.