Let the Gleans Begin!

Community Food Rescue volunteers glean kale at Butler Montessori School View more photos

Community Food Rescue (CFR) has launched the second year of its gleaning initiative.

Gleaning is the harvesting of food that would otherwise go unpicked. The crop is left unharvested when there is so little left behind that it is not economical for the farmer to harvest. Or, in the case of “pick your own farms,” the pickings are too slim for customers.

Our first glean of the season was at Butler Montessori School in Darnestown. With school coming to a close, there was limited staff or student time for pulling the kale so that summer crops could be planted.

Two Montgomery County Master Gardener volunteers, Dawn L. and Erica S. (one of whom is also a CFR food runner) and Jill P. also wearing two hats as a Manna/CFR volunteer, heeded the call from Susan Wexler, CFR’s Outreach Coordinator, to help with harvesting kale. CFR was invited to harvest the kale by Bridgette D. who runs the farm program at Butler Montessori and who is also a CFR donor farmer. Bridgette operates Chicken in the Woods Farm.

We pulled the kale and then a very helpful group of 7th graders, stripped the kale leaves off the stem and the stems went to feed the chickens and into the compost pile. Meanwhile, Susan explained a bit about CFR’s mission and food insecurity in Montgomery County. Twenty–five pounds of fresh, organic, kale was delivered by Erica S. to the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless’ Safe Haven home for Veterans. We were invited to return to Butler Montessori for another glean in July.

Our second glean was at Butler’s Orchard — no relation to Butler Montessori! Four Master Gardeners: Linda B., Robin K., Christine H., Gail S., and two CFR/Manna volunteers Molly H. and Ellen B. joined Susan Wexler for this work. Over just a few hours they harvested 82 pounds of beautiful strawberries. Molly completed her first food run and delivered the berries to Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg. The school staff was thrilled. CFR provided them with berries last year and the students loved them – it was a special treat. CFR collaborates with Pam H. of the University of Maryland Extensions Supplemental Food and Nutrition program to arrange for these relationships with MCPS.

We are grateful for this collaborative effort between CFR, Master Gardeners, UMD Extension and of course particularly to our farmer donors.

We expect to organize for 4 or 5 more gleans this growing season.