A Summer in the Life: Another VISTA Perspective

02 Sep 2021, by Admin in Kitsap Harvest

Kyleigh Humes served as a Summer Associate VISTA at Kitsap Harvest in Bremerton, Washington. She helped further Kitsap’s mission to connect “abundance to need by reducing food waste, nurturing community, and providing equitable access to fresh, locally grown food.” Below, Kyleigh reflects on her summer, the inequities she witnesses as a local from the region, and an especially memorable harvesting experience. 

I grew up in the communities I have served this summer. My Summer Associate experience was a nostalgic one, reminding me of the community that shaped me into the person I am today. I now live in Bainbridge Island, an abundantly wealthy community where my family and I are the outcasts. My goal this summer was to bridge that gap and expand Kitsap Harvests’ program to Bainbridge Island, to obtain more resources, donations, and volunteer power. We now have plenty of donations, but little help for harvesting. 

When I roll through the local grocery store where people know about my Summer VISTA service, everyone asks, “How’s the farm?” I then have to explain to them that I am not typically on farms – contrary to the popular understanding of “harvest,” Kitsap Harvest actually mostly gleans produce from people’s gardens and yards, and only on a few occasions from farmers’ fields. Then the question is, of course, “What is gleaning?” I explain that we harvest the excess produce from homeowners’ abundant gardens, orchards, and fruit trees. People are surprised at this unique option for community service.

Gleaning a farmer’s produce, though, is a special experience. The most memorable harvest for me was at Breidablik Farm. We gleaned a couple hundred pounds of overripe, water balloon-like plums before the farm harvest. I left the plum site with juice stains on my arms, feeling sticky and warm. We also harvested potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and berries – so, imagine the dirt sticking to the plum juice. 

The farmer offered to make us lunch and I was quick to accept because this meant I could wash off. This was the only time someone really offered to do such an act this summer. He made hamburgers and potato salad with his dill, coriander, and potatoes from his garden. Talk about farm to table.  Plus at home, I am usually making dinner for my family, so this was a big “dill” to me. It was simple but that meal hit the spot. We harvested for probably four hours, and I know his meal got me through that experience feeling appreciated. 

Food is important to us all, beyond just nourishment for our bodies. This experience allowed me to see our community expand the appreciation of food in exchange for the deepest gratitude for the assistance.