The Clark County Food Bank gleaning program began in 2012 with the help of 90 enlisted volunteers, 20 growers, 12 donors, and 9 gleaning event hosts. They are always working to expand their farm base in “keeping it local.”
Volunteering with a gleaning project is a great way to get neighbors connected, learn new skills, and strengthen the fabric of a community. In many cases, it helps to bridge excess food with hungry people while keeping that food within the community. Clark County Food Bank has organized gleans ranging in size from one person picking from a plum tree to over 50 people harvesting a 2-acre pear orchard! Despite gleaning opportunities coming up randomly and often with little preparation time, getting the word out to their volunteer community has always yielded someone willing to help. Gleaning is also a great opportunity for not only getting kids interested in volunteering but also for introducing them to new types of fresh food!
To organize a glean, adequate preparation is key to make sure everything runs smoothly and volunteers are comfortable. Ask the farmer or grower what the window for harvest is, as they will usually contact you right when it’s time to harvest! Other good questions to ask are the estimated produce quantity, their ideal time of day for gleaners to harvest, tools that may be necessary, and available parking space for volunteers. Keep in mind that depending on the crop being harvested and the ages of volunteers, something to sit or kneel on may be necessary. Be sure to bring plenty of boxes or other containers, too!
Clark County Food Bank currently distributes to 34 different agencies throughout the county. With over 150 farms dispersed throughout Clark County, connecting their agencies with these farms and volunteers will ultimately lead to greater access to nutritious fruits and vegetables. Volunteers assist in harvesting the fields and collecting produce; giving people a chance to get their hands dirty, literally!