Save the veggies.
Pictured above, a local cucumber field getting mowed down last week in preparation for planting fall crops. Every bit of yellow in that picture is - was - a perfectly good cucumber... Now it's all food loss. That farmer is not happy about mowing down the delicious, nutritious fruit of so much labor. If they had a better option they would take it...
This is why The Gleaning Project of South Central PA exists.
Our growers are happy to work with us to save their excess fruits and vegetables... To take their part in supporting our community. We go out (with you, volunteers), harvest or pick up local farm's still-good - so good - extras, line culls, field gleanings... And we get that food distributed to our neighbors right here in Franklin and Adams counties; those whom we know are in need, who want to eat better, who often need to eat better to help overcome poor health obstacles.
There is so much great food sitting in fields all around us, right now. Happy August : )
Did you know... by dollar value of sales, Franklin County is the #2 most vegetable producing county in the state of PA (2012 Census of Agriculture details here)? Only Lancaster beats us.
Similarly, Adams County is the #1 most fruit and berry producing county in the state of PA (details here). Number one!
We here in South Central PA are so lucky. Our home has so much bounty.
Approximately 20% of all that food grown here will go to waste though, before it even gets off the farm.
Good food - perfectly edible, fresh, super nutritious food - is lost on farms rather than sold to consumers far too often in our current food system. Anywhere from 1% to 30% with certain crops, or in a "bad year," or during a flooded market when every farm up and down the east coast has tomatoes and cucumbers. (Not to mention... geez don't even say it, summer squash...) This is the nature of agriculture right now. We have an imperfect local and national system that inefficiently gets food from those who grow it to those who want to consume it. Farmers have small businesses to run, limited labor supply, and very narrow profit margins they must stay within or accrue more debt. Consumers want pretty produce, what and whenever they want it, and for as little as they're willing, or able, to pay. We end up with tons and tons... and tons of fresh, local fruits and vegetables going to waste.
If only one takeaway, then this - no farmer wastes food. Farmers know exactly how much work and how many resources it takes to grow. They hate waste. They grow for a living. If they could sell their goods for a profit, they would.
When local farmers and fruit growers can't sell for profit, when they have excess, they can turn to The Gleaning Project.
Our work is to save their effort. To pick up where they have to leave off. To harvest or pick up their extras. To make the best use possible of our bountiful region's agricultural excess. To reduce hunger and improve nutrition for those in our community most in need.
We're a community solution with so, much, potential. And we have so far to go. We'll see what we can make happen as we come into the height of our harvest season - now until... Thanksgiving? Christmas? At least Thanksgiving. It all depends on the frosts...
Join The Gleaning Project - however you're most interested and able - as we work to build a better local food system, reduce on-farm food loss, improve nutrition and reduce hunger right here in South Central PA.
Save the veggies. And the fruits!
More info at: