“The time-honored tradition of returning to the fields and orchards to harvest surplus crops is alive and well in South Sound.
Called gleaning, this final harvest of whats left behind after commercial harvest is helping to feed the ever-growing number of hungry people served by food banks in the region.
The Thurston County Food Bank hired its first gleaning coordinator in May, the result of a Harvest Against Hunger federal project supported by AmeriCorps VISTA and funded by federal stimulus dollars.
Food Bank gleaning coordinator Heather Davis has teamed up with several South Sound organic farms and homeowners to make sure a wide range of food, including green beans, corn, Asian pears, and apples, doesnt go to waste.
Since July, Davis has rounded up volunteers to glean at participating farms, typically after the commercial growers have completed their harvest.
Davis estimated that 10 percent to 15 percent of the fresh produce available through the food bank is gleaned.
Its a welcome addition, coming at a time when the demand for food bank services is on the rise. For instance, the Thurston County Food Bank saw a 39 percent increase in clients in 2008 compared with 2007, a growth trend thats continuing this year….
Davis said other commercial farms participating in the Thurston County Food Bank gleaning program include Kirsop Farms, Circle Hawk Farm, Lattins Country Cider Mill Farm and the Wobbly Cart Farm and Cooperative,” from The Olympian.