Helpful Harvest: Gleaning for Good

To many of us today, gleaning refers to the gathering or garnering of knowledge, but historically gleaning refers to gathering leftover produce after a harvest. The Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department is bringing back the historical meaning of the word gleaning. Through a mutually beneficial relationship with farmer lessees of county land, Parks and Open Space is sponsoring volunteer events to glean leftover produce to supply a food bank with healthy, fresh food.

More than 20,000 Households Benefit

Last fall, Dave Asbury, an organic farmer and county agricultural land lessee, first had volunteers participate in gleaning produce. Volunteers tromped through muddy fields still fertile with pumpkins and squash, choosing the whole and clean fruit from an array of colorful produce. Community Food Share also came out to help, bringing with them crates atop a trailer to tow the squash back to their Louisville-based food bank. Serving Boulder and Broomfield counties where one in six people live in poverty, Community Food Share provided food to more than 20,700 households in 2014. Parks and Open Space is proud to partner with Community Food Share as they supply many meal and grocery programs in the area.

While the majority of produce had already been harvested, there were still plenty of good-looking squashes to glean. The variety of fruits included squashes such as acorn, delicata, turban, red kuri, and Cinderella pumpkins.

Some volunteers giggled at the unique varieties of squash rarely seen in the big box grocery stores, posing with the produce for pictures, while others dreamed of delicious soups to be made of the squashes, all the while working diligently to fill the crates. The fruits quickly accumulated and smiling volunteers filled Community Food Share’s crates to capacity. The goal was completed more quickly than anyone expected, and soon everyone left with the knowledge that the beautiful squashes would provide hundreds, maybe thousands of meals for families with food insecurities.

In total, the gleaned produce weighed 2,200 pounds. When you consider that an average person eats about three pounds of food each day, that’s a lot of squash!

Volunteers Needed for 2015 Projects

Gleaning projects will be scheduled for October and we need your help! Volunteers will use various hand tools to harvest, glean and clean remaining produce. Register at www.BoulderCountyOpenSpace.org/wildwork.