Thanking Our Local Growers18 Aug 2022, by Harvest Blog, Harvest Summer Associate, Thurston County Food Bank in
Aleina is an Americorps VISTA member, serving as a Harvest Summer Associate to the Gleaning Program at the Thurston County Food Bank (TCFB) in Olympia Washington.The Gleaning program connects with local growers to pick up their excess produce and distribute it to the many service centers that in turn give people good food! Aleina is focusing on reducing food waste in the community and getting fresh, local, produce to those in need through volunteer recruitment, establishing and supporting delivery systems, and increasing community awareness.
Serving as a gleaning associate, Aleina spends a lot of her time interacting with donors. The donors she meets are usually local farmers, or everyday people who grow on their residences. Other’s donate their crops and grow with the intention to give it to the foodbank. These people are all so generous and have a lot of work on their hands. Somehow, they are able to make an effort to get their excess produce to people who need it.
A gleaner’s job is to rescue produce from going to waste. Often, Aleina meets one of the Gleaning programs’ regular donors at the Washington Corrections Center. Hope Gardens is an inmate-run garden that cultivates its crop just to give to the neighboring communities. Aleina is met directly from the fields by a forklift driver who carries pallets full of greens, being harvested minutes earlier. In another glean they go to local homes where fruit is ripe for the picking. Out the gleaners go with their pickers and ladders ready to bring back apples. Some other regular donors to the foodbank include Kirsop, Common Grounds, and Helsing Junction Farms.
Because so much is donated to the food bank, usually being given to clients the same day, Aleina is pursuing a project to thank the donors of all this gleaned produce. Small cards get handed out to clients during service hours where they can write their sentiments to a farmer if they choose. Some amazing words of gratitude have come back, and they will be composed into a booklet for the local growers in Thurston county. Whatever the role, the mission to end hunger wouldn’t be solved without those that give. Saying “Thank you” can go a long way, and highlight the impact that involvement brings to a community.