It’s hard to believe how fast the past 10 weeks have flown by. Each day is different at Boston Area Gleaners, and, as I look back, I realize that the work is driven by nature – the changing seasons, the daily weather, the maturation of various crops, the “shelf life” of different vegetables.
My name is Sandro Carboni, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to intern with this amazing organization. I am a rising senior at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, where I’m majoring in Environmental Studies. My college is in Geneva, NY on Lake Seneca. A sizable percentage of Geneva-area residents suffer from food insecurity, and I have become acutely aware of – and interested in – this issue through coursework and community involvement. My experience with Boston Area Gleaners has taught me so much about the food ecosystem and about what people – farmers, volunteers and non-profits – can do to help.
During this past summer, I had the opportunity to work in all aspects of the Gleaners and I learned so much about the way in which the pieces all fit together. On some days, I went on gleaning trips and was able to meet fun and generous volunteers. I learned a ton from Jack and the team about various vegetables. I really enjoyed being out in the sun getting to know some of the area’s beautiful small farms. On other days, I worked with Matt to organize our gleaned produce and assisted in distributing it around the surrounding area. It is an amazing feeling to deliver bushels of carrots and radishes to pantries, shelters and food banks, knowing that people will have something fresh and healthy to eat.
It is hard to visualize our ecosystem – Where are the farms that have produce for us to glean? Who/Where are the volunteers in relation to the farms? Where are the recipient agencies in relation to each another so that we can plan our delivery routes? With this in mind, my main project was focused on analyzing data that the team currently relies on to manage information regarding farms, volunteers and agencies. I assisted in cleaning up the existing data and then looked at challenges facing the team. I researched visualization software tools and chose one to experiment with (i.e. Espatial). I am hoping that this tool will help the team to replace some manual tasks with automation to keep improving the ability to distribute food from farms to families.
I am going back to college with a real connection to this organization, its people and its mission. It has been an amazing feeling to deliver banana boxes full of beautiful fruits and vegetables and to know that this food will be enjoyed by families rather than left in the fields. I am eager to use what I have learned here to help a current gleaning nonprofit in Geneva.
I couldn’t have imagined a better summer and I’m excited to see how Boston Area Gleaners continues to grow.
By Sandro Carboni,
2018 Forest Foundation Summer Intern