We had a tremendously successful July this year, which can largely be attributed to our increased capacity from 2014 to 2015. Compared with last year, we gleaned nearly 9,000 more pounds in over double the amount of bushels. In July of 2015, we gleaned 20,588 pounds in 778 bushels; in July of 2014, we gleaned 11,645 pounds of produce in 366 bushels. And, we accomplished this in only 36 gleaning trips in July of 2015, compared to 30 gleaning trips during July of 2014, which points to our increased efficiencies as a gleaning organization (larger vehicles, better volunteer training, etc.).
With gleaning coordinator staff hours in July increased from just 32 hours a week last year to 72 hours a week this year, plus a larger van and stronger relationships with more farms, it is no surprise that we were able to accomplish this increase. July is a notoriously slow month for gleaning, mainly because farmers have more things on their minds than possibly at any other point during the season. They are harvesting what they can from their early-season plantings, and planning for and planting fall crops. Of course, the intense summer heat does not make things easier, as most crops grow a lot faster (and, in turn, rot faster) when it is hot out.
However, with more staff hours this year, we are now able to carve out more time to reach out to farmers, rather than remaining passive and relying on them to reach out to us. This constant communication between farmers and gleaning coordinators creates a constant stream of donated produce for us to glean. Of course, without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, we wouldn't be able to glean anything. And, with our new relationship with the Greater Boston Good Bank, there is practically no limit to how much we can harvest and donate to the hunger relief fresh food network of eastern Massachusetts.
Written by Matt Crawford, Lead Gleaning Coordinator