The first quarter meeting of the Vermont Gleaning Collective, held Monday in St. Albans, opened with a special guest: Governor Phil Scott. The day-long meeting took place at Northwestern Medical Center, hosted by The Healthy Roots Collaborative, one of six Gleaning Collective members, and facilitated by Salvation Farms, another member. Member programs, who share the joint mission to define best practices to work and glean in solidarity tosupport farmers, residents, and the greater food system, took this day to reflect, learn, plan, and discuss the need for and impact of professional gleaning in Vermont.
“This is such an exciting and enterprising way for all of us to give back,” Governor Scott said of the community-based gleaning organized by Vermont Gleaning Collective members, who work with farmers, volunteers, and food access programs in their communities to capture and distribute wholesome, Vermont grown crops that otherwise would not get to market. “Volunteerism is so important in Vermont – it’s part of our tradition and culture – as well as agriculture is part of our tradition and culture. So, bringing this together – marrying the two – just seems like it fits so well.”
The Governor stayed for a presentation by Elana Dean of Isgood Community Research on the Salvation Farms’ research that quantified fresh produce demand at Vermont’s institutions and charitable food sites. Another presenter was Carrie Scrufari from the Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems who shed light on the liability and tax laws that all gleaning programs need to be aware of. Abbie Nelson from the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont & VTFEED, representing Vermont’s farm to school efforts, also joined the meeting to engaged in a robust discussion on the tenuous role of gleaned produce in school meal programs. The day wrapped up with a video of four Vermont farmers discussing what they believe could be done with Vermont’s surplus produce.
Members also shared highlights of their 2016 seasons, traveling from near and far to be present. In addition to St. Albans-based Healthy Roots Collaborative, the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, Intervale Center, Community Harvest of Central Vermont, HOPE, and Salvation Farms, the Vermont Gleaning Collective’s founder and facilitator, all were represented.
For information about the Vermont Gleaning Collective and to register as a volunteer gleaner, visit www.vermontgleaningcollective.org.
Photo: Vermont Governor Scott joins the members of the Vermont Gleaning Collective at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans on March 13th. Photo by Katharine Laddison.