Volunteers make the wheels turn at Sierra Harvest and we are especially grateful for all of those who have jumped in during 2020 to help out during this time of increased community need!
In lieu of our big end-of-season farm potluck to celebrate our dedicated crew of volunteers, we’d like to take a moment to share our thanks to the 200+ volunteers who contributed over 2,200 hours over the last 12 months, even in the midst of a pandemic and the worst wildfire year on record. We couldn’t do this work without you!
We want to give special thanks to our volunteer of the year, which goes to the 2019-20 Glean Harvest Leaders! A big shout out for
Tina Hannon, Clif Mackinlay, Laurie Michel, Nicole Stevenson, Hiroko Greenberg, Lisa Haden, Matia Divitt & Anna Mudd
for leading teams of volunteers to rescue fresh, local food out of the waste stream and deliver into the hands of community members who need it most.
The glean teams go to farms, farmer’s markets and private residences to collect and harvest food that would otherwise go to waste. The Glean Harvest Leaders have a big responsibility, as they handle all aspects of a glean, from contacting the hosts and evaluating the harvest potential, scavenging boxes for the bounty, and finally leading the harvest and bringing all of the gleaned produce to the distribution site. Working in partnership with the Interfaith Food Ministry, the glean teams get all this great food into the bellies of people in need of food assistance. Not only that, these volunteers take care of all the paperwork and backend as well- weighing the food and logging it in the database too. They are true local food heroes!
At a recent tomato glean, leaders were asked why they choose to take on this responsibility for the season. Glean Harvest Leader and founding member of the Gold County gleaning program, Clif Mackinlay spoke with passion about his commitment to seeing less food go to waste and more food get to the people who need it, and the community connections that are made because of it. Anna Mudd spoke about it being a political act. “Gleaning is like re-establishing the right of people to feed themselves. I do it because to not do it is criminal.” This led to a discussion of gleaning and its historical context and gleaning as social responsibility, and then someone piped up from the endless rows of tomatoes “Harvesting is fun!” Of course everyone present was in full agreement!
In 2019, the gleaners were able to divert over 12 TONS of food from going to waste! One notable glean last year was 3,500 pounds of winter squash from Rich Johansen. The leaders also collected excess produce at the farmer’s market every Saturday, did lots of residential gleans (like apples, pears, and figs), as well as a couple of large tomato gleans at Greg’s Organics.
With a crew of 60 people who worked over 200 hours, it’s no surprise why we chose to honor the gleaning crew and all their hard work. While much of this work happened in 2019, the gleans continued this year with COVID safe procedures including sanitizing hands and tools, social distancing, wearing masks, and no carpooling.
In these times, finding ways to support one another is crucial. The gleaning crew is a prime example of this in action! Our kudos go out to these amazing leaders for volunteering their time to divert delicious fresh food out of the waste stream and into the community. Hopefully next year we can celebrate in person! In the meantime, consider joining the team!