A lifelong New Englander, Gillian D’Acierno first moved to the Northeast Kingdom in 2019 to serve as an educator at the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington, where she got hooked on gleaning with Salvation Farms. She’s excited to be back in the Kingdom and to help start Vermont’s newest gleaning program. Having spent the past couple winters in tropical places (Togo and southern Chad), she’s also excited to once again experience the joy and pain of a long New England winter. She looks forward to falling while skiing, ice skating, and walking out to her car in the morning. But before that, she looks forward to a summer spent harvesting veggies and fruit at farms around the Northeast Kingdom.
Three counties in Vermont, Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex, are often collectively called the “Northeast Kingdom.” This region, rich in rolling landscapes and fertile soils, hosts over 1,000
farms producing everything from berries to trout to goat cheese to honey, plus maple syrup, of course! Despite this, demographic and economic shifts have created high rates of food insecurity in the region, which is the most rural in Vermont. In 2018, 1 in 8 NEK residents was food insecure, a number that’s likely risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic (one UVM study suggests that the pandemic caused food insecurity in Vermont to triple). Each year in the Northeast Kingdom an estimated 1,000,000+ pounds of edible produce don’t make it to the table. Enter NEK Gleaners, a program that will serve the region by helping farmers recover produce that would otherwise be lost, helping develop infrastructure and systems to distribute that produce, and helping all Vermonters access fresh, local, delicious food.