On a rainy day fit to usher Vermonters into mud season, volunteers gather at Pete’s Greens farm in Craftsbury for some winter gleaning.
Gleaning is the socially conscious practice of collecting excess crops from farms for redistribution to individuals. First mentioned in the Old Testament, this practice dates back approximately 2,000 years. Farmers were instructed to leave un-harvested crops in the field, or to the side, for poorer neighbors to collect and nourish themselves. Collection of un-harvested crops for community distribution was common practice until the end of World War II with the advent of increased private property laws and new farming technologies.
Today, organizations such as Salvation Farms are leading the charge to reintroduce this ancient practice. First conceptualized in 2005 and achieving non-profit status in 2012, Salvation Farm’s mission is “to increase community food security, food independence, food access, food equity and food resilience in Vermont”. While packaging greens for donation Gleaning Coordinator Kayleigh Boyle expresses the heart of Salvation Farm’s goals. “These greens will go to nursing homes, libraries, and so forth. They will directly feed the community. Quality food is for all.” As produce was sorted, weighed, and loaded to be distributed the room was brimming with positivity and hope for the future of our local-based food system.
As one of the most resilient states in the country against the worst effects of climate change, Vermont has a unique opportunity to fortify our food system for both longevity and sovereignty. The actions we take now will determine the possibilities available to future generations. Conserving farmland is an essential step in ensuring local agriculture has the landbase it needs in the future. And becoming more connected with our local food systems by volunteering with organizations dedicated to protecting and celebrating the land can help build the communities we need to support a vibrant local farming culture and economy. See below for resources to volunteer with your local community and conservation organizations this summer.
Happy Volunteer Season!