Salvation Farms has created and launched a new, web-based tool called the Gleaners Interface, which streamlines and standardizes the gleaning process. Organizations and volunteers harvest fresh, unsold produce from farms in order to make good use of crops that would otherwise go to waste, a.k.a. gleaning. The new online platform makes it easier for members of the Vermont Gleaning Collective to recruit, register, and coordinate volunteers, and to track all hours contributed and every pound that member organizations capture and distribute statewide.
“We are proud to be a member of the Vermont Gleaning Collective,” said Travis Marcotte, the Intervale Center’s Executive Director. “We believe that good food has the power to change the world – and that delicious, fresh, local food should be available to anyone who wants it, regardless of income. The Gleaners Interface is an invaluable tool to help us achieve that goal.”
Vermont fruit and vegetable farmers produce hundreds of tons of edible, farm-fresh food, but often, not all of their production is sold. Market fluctuations, as well as production realities like hail damage or timing, can force farmers to make a choice between harvesting one crop or moving on to the next part of their season. A modest estimate is that Vermont loses at least two million pounds of fruits and vegetables annually.
“The Vermont Gleaning Collective and the new interface to help coordinate statewide efforts to collect un-harvested produce from farm fields and turn into nutritious food is work in action towards reaching one of the overall goals of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan—to improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters,” says Erica Campbell, Farm to Plate Program Director. “Salvation Farms, who manages the Vermont Gleaning Collective, is an active participant in the Farm to Plate Network, working to implement the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan—Vermont’s statewide plan to strengthen the food system.”
To address the issue of food loss on farms, Salvation Farms has been helping Vermont communities establish effective gleaning programs for nearly ten years to make more local food available for both individuals and institutions who must often choose affordability over the wholesome abundance of our state’s farms. The organization has now connected gleaners around the state into the Vermont Gleaning Collective, providing members with program-specific support and technical assistance. The Collective and the new online tool are complementary support structures that are creating more efficient community-based services and better data tracking for gleaning expertise and action.
The Vermont Gleaning Collective’s organizational members currently stretch from Chittenden County straight through the Champlain Valley to Rutland County and into Central Vermont.
Consider this your invitation to become a gleaner! Visit www.salvationfarms.org to register today.