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What does a Gleaning Coordinator do in the Winter?

29 Jan 2020, by Admin in Good Cheer Food Bank, Harvest Blog, Harvest VISTA, Washington state

Here at Good Cheer Food Bank on Whidbey Island, most of the gleaning work is harvesting from fruit
trees donated to the food bank. There are a few farm gleans in the cold months, but for the most part
winter is the time to work on indoor projects. One highlight of the VISTA’s winter work is sending out
thank you’s and an end of the season summary so that both donors and volunteers can see just how
much they contributed to feeding the local community.


In December, Brandi sent out thank you post cards she created in Illustrator and printed on card stock to
all of the tree donors and farm partners; the cards included the total for the year, either from the
farmer’s market or from fruit tree gleaning. The totals from 2019 were 2543 pounds from the farmer’s
market and 3397 from fruit tree gleaning.


Since fruit trees are the mainstay of the gleaning program, educating tree donors about fruit tree care
and providing them with resources has direct benefits for the food bank; healthy trees live longer and
produce better fruit, and working to eradicate pests like apple maggot benefit the environment in
general.


Fruit trees are typically pruned in January or February, so early winter is a good time to use the monthly
gleaning newsletter to let tree donors know about local pruning classes, and any other useful local
resources. Some years, the Good Cheer Garden hosts a pruning class, using their trees as
demonstration. If not, the Pacific Rim Institute in Coupeville puts on fruit tree workshops every year
around this time. For those who might not be able to prune their own trees (or don’t feel comfortable
doing their own pruning), Good Cheer has a short list of local arborists who specialize in fruit trees to
recommend.


Other winter newsletter topics include: creating native bee habitats, fending off pests like apple maggot
and coddling moth, supporting pollinators in the garden, how to put trees to bed for the winter by
mulching, and information about choosing, planting, and caring for new fruit trees.