The flood of food has begun and gleaning season is here! As the season has ramped up and our volunteer needs have increased, we've been blown away by the amount of support we've found in our community members. Thank You to every single one of you that has come out to a glean, volunteered at the produce stand, or donated fruits and veggies from your garden. You make this little project possible.
This post is dedicated to a specific group of volunteers. This year, the third week in July was made extra awesome, thanks to First United Methodist Church in Greencastle. As a part of their "month of missions", the good people of F.U.M.C. desired to serve the community and The Gleaning Project for an entire week. They asked for a jam-packed week of serving opportunities and we obliged. :-) This is how the first ever "Glean Week" was born.
So was Glean Week a success?
Yes! It went so well, thanks to the dozens of volunteers and the hard work of Ryan Whisel (Pastor of Family Ministries) and congregation member Lauren Gibble. We gleaned and distributed a lot of food! Without their help, this would not have happened.
F.U.M.C helped glean 2,000 pounds of sweet corn and 84 quarts of blueberries. They staffed our produce stand for an entire week, giving regular volunteers and staff members a break. They created fresh flower bouquets and handed them out at the Produce Stand. They froze 110 bags of corn that will be distributed to help families have fresh produce throughout the year. They helped us get much needed office work tasks completed. And they did it all with a smile.
We noticed a few things in particular that we count as bonus perks of Glean Week.
From Field to Freezer
Having the same group of volunteers for several consecutive days provided the opportunity for people to participate in the full circle of The Gleaning Project. Typically, a volunteer is able to participate in only one or two different types of Gleaning Project events a year.
But then there is a Glean Week. Glean Week is amazing!
After gleaning 2,000 pounds of sweet corn on Tuesday (thanks to Country Creek Produce), many of the same volunteers from F.U.M.C were able to help distribute it through the produce stand on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as freeze over 100 bags in their church kitchen on Friday. Did you catch that? They were participating in gleaning, distributing, and preserving the same sweet corn all in one week! They also got to meet several of the people who receive produce, and see their action make an impact. We have many volunteers who have been part of the TGP team for years who haven't had that opportunity yet. That is the potential of a Glean Week.
Something for everyone
Because there was a wide selection of volunteer openings, there was a job for everyone. It was encouraging to see the diversity of talents, ages, and backgrounds of the volunteers. We had children helping to run the Produce Stand, senior citizens helping to freeze corn, and teenagers gleaning blueberries in the field. How often do you see such a varied group of people all working towards the same goal? That is the beautiful diversity of a Glean Week.
Just open the door...
This week only happened because Ryan and Lauren at F.U.M.C. headed up the cause. They reached out and asked if it was possible.
So, thank you, Ryan, Lauren, and F.U.M.C. members for your willingness to try something new with us! Thank you for your excitement, patience and generosity. We enjoyed working with you and look forward to partnering more in the future.
We loved this Glean Week idea and are searching for more churches, schools or clubs who would like to participate next year. Do you have a group of people who may desire to work together alongside the Gleaning Project? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!