As a Gleaners board member, I spend most of my time behind the scenes: planning and running meetings, supporting our executive director, and encouraging other board members with the tasks that they take on.
Every once in a while, my schedule accommodates a trip into the fields. Standing in a farmer’s field provides much to reflect upon: the growing cycle; the relationship of humans to land and food; the climate; the simple beauty of place that an urban commuter rarely gets to visit.
I recently had the opportunity to go gleaning at the Food Project and, as I relieved plants of huge heads of cabbage, I considered the person who would eventually consume this product of human effort, climate, and generosity. I peeled off weathered outer leaves to reveal gleaming, wonderful-smelling cabbage. I considered whether the cabbage would be cooked and served at a homeless shelter. Or perhaps the cabbage would reach a distribution bag at a local food pantry, brought home by a neighbor stretching food stamps or a fixed income. I put myself in my neighbor’s shoes: on a limited budget, craving healthy food yet unable to justify the expense.
My heart leapt at the gratitude I imagined feeling at the heft of this gorgeous cabbage. The recipient would not be thinking about the planting in spring, the work and worry of growing season, or the harvest. The recipient would not see the work of the Gleaners, or our old truck, or our gracious volunteers.
In that moment, holding a cabbage that I wasn’t going to eat, and for a long time afterwards, the gratitude was all mine - for being able to help with hunger relief and for engaging in support of local farming. If you have not been gleaning yet this year, sign up for our Boston-area alerts and get yourself out in the fresh air, with good company, to do good things for hungry neighbors, farmers, and the planet.