Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Gleaning Intern Returned, by Celia Hurvitt

            Over the past couple weeks of emerging summer, I have been out gleaning at many distinct farms around Hancock County. From John Hyk’s rows of spinach at his market garden in Prospect, to Runwater Farm’s plot of deer tongue lettuce, Four Season Farm and Beech Hill Farm greenhouses, each of the farms we have gleaned at has a particular nuance that I have had the joy of exploring.
It was only last June that I went out gleaning for the first time. At Pat and Mike’s Garden, in Ellsworth, we were greeted by a slobbery sweet dog and a cheerful invitation from its owner: “Take that whole row of lettuce,” and “do you need to use the hose? Would you like anything to snack on?” Katie and I spent a few hours amongst their beds, getting our knees covered with dirt and salvaging the seconds greens not fit to be sold. Once we finished  filling our yellow crates to the brim with fresh heads of lettuce we reluctantly left, lingering to pat the dog on the head and hoping we could come back soon.

I have had the pleasure to work as a gleaning intern for Healthy Acadia’s Gleaning and FarmDrop Manager Hannah Semler the last two summers through a grant program at my school that provides funding for us, high school students, to spend part, or all of our summers exploring something that piques our interest and in turn serves our communities. I have always been interested in food and how food waste affects our society. Through gleaning I have been able to put that interest into action and affect real change in the community. Along with gleaning I have been supporting Farmdrop.org, learning a great deal about food distribution and the connection between farmers, consumers, and gleaners.

I have found that going to farms as a gleaner is a great privilege. Last week, Ramsay Williamson and I traveled out to Beech Hill Farm on Mount Desert Island to glean spinach.  On a farm on MDI that is frequented by tourists and people coming in and out of the farm stand all day long, it felt incredible to drive up and receive an excited exclamation, “the gleaners are here!” We were greeted by one of the farmers, who took time out of his day to show us around and extend the invitation of spinach to lettuce and dill as well. Four Seasons Farm on Cape Rosier has been another great spot. Not only is it beautiful, the farmers always accommodate us with a sink, spinner and even veggies to snack on for the ride home. The generosity of these people who work so hard is truly admirable.
I am excited and grateful that for the rest of the summer I get to keep traveling to farms, making connections, and gleaning great food. Look for more updates on gleaning activities.

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