This November, we set a goal for ourselves to glean and deliver 10 tons (20,000 pounds) of fruits and vegetables in the 10 days before Thanksgiving. This came about on the 11th day before Thanksgiving (!), due to a request from Food For Free for Boston Area Gleaners (BAG) to supply all of their 80+ recipient agencies with locally grown carrots, apples, squash, potatoes, and greens for Thanksgiving. We shook hands and dove into the challenge the next day. Thanks to the generosity of our partner farmers and the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, we met and surpassed this goal with one day to spare!
To summarize the effort: BAG had a total of 58 volunteers (tallying 127 hours of labor) glean at 9 different farms. We gleaned 7,800 pounds of winter squash, 4,500 pounds of carrots, 3,200 pounds of apples, 2,000 pounds of potatoes, and 1,300 pounds of greens (mostly kale and collards). The majority of this weight (17,878 lbs.) was delivered to Food For Free. The generous farms that donated this surplus included: Kimball Fruit Farm, The Food Project, Weir River Farm, Hutchins Farm, Waltham Fields Community Farm, Appleton Farms, Dick's Market Gardens and Greenhouses, and Barrett's Mill Farm.
The total amount of produce gleaned by the Boston Area Gleaners this year is staggering: 157,875 pounds in 6,406 bushels, and there’s no stopping in sight! About 57% of this year’s produce has been donated to our distribution partners: Food for Free (taking the majority), the Greater Boston Food Bank, and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank. These partners have distributed the produce to among 600+ hunger relief organizations. The remaining 43% of our totals have been delivered directly by our staff to BAG’s partner pantries located in Arlington, Belmont, Lexington, Medford, Cambridge, Waltham, Watertown, and on the North Shore in Beverly and Peabody.
Looking forward, volunteers can expect the number of gleaning trips to slow significantly as the median temperature falls and the ground freezes up. Cabbage and carrots remain in the fields and have been donated for gleaning at two farms, and we will continue to glean surplus squash, root vegetables, and apples from cold storage and barns through the end of December and possibly into the New Year. If you are interested in gleaning with us, please visit our Volunteer webpage to learn more.
To the Harvest!
Lead Gleaning Coordinator