As a working mom with three young children, there’s not much time left in Katherine Tarca’s busy life for extra-curricular activities that don’t include people under the age of five.
That’s why the Medford resident, who works on curriculum and instructional support in the state Department of Education’s office of literacy and humanities, has yet to take a gleaning trip with BAG. But that doesn’t mean she’s not keenly interested in the work the organization is doing to ensure that fields of gorgeous produce don’t go to waste.
“There’s a very easy way of taking this resource that would otherwise go to waste and put it to use: It’s such an appealing idea,” said Tarca, 35. “It’s the same as Airbnb or car sharing where you take a resource that’s sitting there, otherwise unused, and find a way to make it work, except this doesn’t make money for anyone. It does good for people in need.”
One example that always sticks with her are the drops in the apple orchards Tarca likes to frequent with her husband and kids.
“People don’t pick up the apples that are on the ground. What’s going to happen to all those apples?” asked Tarca, who is a gardener and knows well the energy and time required to nurture produce.
“A farmer went through all the work to grow this crop. It’s a terrible idea that it would just rot in the field—especially when there is someone who would like to have it,” said Tarca. “So it’s like a win, win, win.”
Tarca first learned about gleaning eight years or so ago when she was reading about sustainability issues. When she Googled the term to find out if there was any one locally involved in the concept: up popped BAG.
“There was stuff in Colorado and I think California. This [BAG] was the only thing around here,” she said. And so she began sending money.
“I like how much impact they make,” said Tarca, who reads all BAG’s newsletters. “To me, that’s evidence that it’s a good idea. When I send them a little bit of money I know it’s going to translate to pounds of food harvested or hundreds of servings shared. It just feels good.”
What would also feel good is getting out there with other gleaners and helping to harvest, but for Tarca, that hasn’t happened—yet.
“Having young kids I’ve never had the chance to actually go on a gleaning trip, although I really, really want to, and I am looking forward to doing that one day,” she said. “They’re starting to do some child-friendly excursion-like trips and I think there’s one coming up next month which I’m going to do with my older daughter . . . she’s only 5, and as they get older I’ll do it with them, or by myself.”
In the meantime, Tarca said she would love to see more photos of BAG’s process on social media because, for people like her who can’t easily go on field trips, it’s fun and inspiring to see all that the volunteers accomplish.
“When I get those images in my head of what the work looks like, it makes me want to support it more,” she said.