Gleaning efforts continue to strengthen Md. Food Bank
CENTREVILLE — Gleaning is a historical and biblical practice in which farmers allow the gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the fields to rot, or be plowed under after harvest, to be used to feed those who otherwise may not have food. The gleaning process began as part of the Maryland Food Bank program in 2010.
Farmers across Maryland were asked originally to donate excess produce after their fields were essentially harvested for market.
The program began with only two farms, and now has grown, much through the passionate efforts of Maryland Food Bank Coordinator Amy Cawley, to 68 farms across Maryland, with the greatest concentration of farm participation on the Eastern Shore. Crawley was hired to get the program started on the Eastern Shore in 2011.
The produce gleaned has included strawberries, squash, pickling cucumbers, sweet corn, cantaloupe, tomatoes, eggplant, green peppers, watermelon, kale, collards, butternut squash, turnips, broccoli, potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes and cauliflower. Sometimes, peaches, plums and apples have been included.
Gleaning begins in May with strawberries and concludes in October with pumpkins. The busiest months are July and August.
Since July 1, 2016, some 224,640 pounds of produce has been donated from Eastern Shore farmers to Maryland Food Bank.
Cawley said, “I don’t have an age restriction on volunteers, but ask that anyone under 16 be accompanied by adult supervision. Only other requirement is to be physically capable.”
Gleaning times vary as to when crops/produce are seasonally ready to harvest. It’s done beginning at 8 a.m. to noon, or 6 p.m. until dark or the job gets done. The gleaning days are weekdays, not weekends. Volunteers can come and go as their schedule allows, but a minimum of one hour is appreciated.
The project is popular with local youth groups, clubs, churches and Scouts. Gleaning qualifies as community service toward meeting the requirements for graduation at local high schools; see a guidance counselor for appropriate forms.
For more information, contact Cawley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maryland Food Bank Coordinator Amy Cawley, right, speaks with volunteers at Mason Farms in Ruthsburg, Thursday evening, Aug. 18, prior to gleaning sweet corn there. Nearly 20 volunteers turned out to help gather the leftover corn.
Thomas Moulden, 14, of Stevensville, carries a harvest basket Thursday evening, Aug. 18, while gleaning sweet corn for the Maryland Food Bank. Thomas was among nearly 20 volunteers who turned out that evening to help gather fresh produce to help feed needy folks in this part of Maryland.
Pam Renfrow and her husband, Jim, of Centreville help harvest sweet corn at Mason Farms.