Surplus veggies feed Vt.

Summer has officially ended and with October comes the crisp, sweater-weather season we call Autumn. The conclusion of the year’s summer crops and the introduction of hearty fall vegetable accompany this transformation of seasons. This window of opportunity is prime for an activity called “gleaning.” Gleaning is the act of collecting surplus crops from farmer’s fields after they have been commercially harvested or deemed unmarketable. This extra produce is then distributed to school cafeterias, food shelves and other sectors in nutritional need. Gleaning occurs all over the country and serves as a stellar model for sustainable community development. Gleaning makes fresh food available at locations serving the malnourished and food-insecure, all while curtailing food waste. The Vermont Foodbank, the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, is currently in its fourth season of their community-based gleaning program, designed by Theresa Snow. This program encourages, accepts and coordinates volunteers to harvest produce from farms before it is distributed to the Foodbank’s network partners. The foodbank has worked with more than 100 different farms, allowing them to build numerous food-donor relationships. “Some farms donate a little, some donate a lot; regardless we are very appreciative,” Snow said. “Pete’s Greens of Craftsbury, Vermont exceeded 30,000 pounds of fresh food last year. That’s amazing.” The foodbank serves as many as 86,000 Vermonters in need of emergency food assistance every year. “Last year alone we collected over 400,000 pounds of bountiful produce from kind, generous farmers and we couldn’t be more grateful,” Snow said. If you are interested in getting your hands dirty, enjoying some time in the fields, and feeding your hungry neighbors, contact the development associate of the foodbank at 802-477-4109.