“Good Food Access is a team effort” – Gleaning Program is run by passionate volunteer leaders

2018 Harvest LeadersIt’s been a busy season for the Gold Country Gleaning Program!  Since August, more than 3,500 pounds of produce has been gleaned by 6 volunteer Harvest Leaders and other volunteers from local farms and 20 private homes that would have otherwise gone to waste.  Through a partnership with the Interfaith Food Ministry (IFM), Sierra Harvest volunteers are able to get this fresh produce into the hands of those who need it most often within a day of being picked!

Watch a short video about a recent glean created and produced by BriarPatch Food Co-op to see a glean in action!

Phil Alonso, the Executive Director of IFM said, “It happened so quickly – we went from talking about it in a meeting exploring this idea to implementing in such a short time. I have been amazed at how quickly, smoothly and efficiently the program has been running over the last couple of months and am excited to keep working with Sierra Harvest.”

This program is led by 6 volunteer “Harvest Leaders” who work with Sierra Harvest to coordinate volunteers and lead them to pick fruit that would otherwise go to waste.   Each leader is enthusiastic in their own way:  Janet Delgado, Tina Hannon, Carolyn and Clif Mackinlay, Laurie Michel and Heidi Zimmerman.

“I really like to see all food get eaten and not go to waste. Gleaning is a fantastic way for us to help the folks in our community who need support with quality food,” stated Heidi Zimmerman.

Other veteran harvest leaders Cliff and Carolyn Mackinlay share similar sentiments about why they love gleaning.  Carolyn said, “It’s physical and earthy, connecting to land, plants and nature- and of course it’s fun!  I notice that people who are volunteering want to really do something- and this is a great opportunity to get in there.  It’s part of how we grow food- a process innate in humanity to want to share that with other people in need.”  Clif and Carolyn were part of the original team that launched the Gold Country Gleaners in 2011 before Sierra Harvest got involved this past August.

Gleaning in Penn Valley 2018 “The Gleaning program functions because of these 6 exceptionally selfless, passionate and enthusiastic volunteers who represent Sierra Harvest with outstanding integrity to all the gleaning volunteers and private homeowners that donate all the fruit,” stated Miriam Limov, Gold Country Gleaning program manager at Sierra Harvest.

And the bounty is being shared! The Interfaith Food Ministry serves 8,000 food insecure clients a month, 25% of which are children.  As this gleaning season begins to slow down, plans are being hatched for how to make it even better next year.

If you would like to get involved with the gleaning program or have an abundance of fruit or veggies to share, check out our website page  for more information.