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What is Gleaning?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Gleaning is “the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need.” Here at CFC, gleaning is an important way that we obtain food to deliver to the community. In fact, in 2022 we recovered about 82,290 lbs. of food!

Windflower Farm Glean 5.1.23

How Does it Work?

As a rural food access organization, we work with upwards of 40 local farms on a regular basis. Throughout the growing season, these partner farms can have excess product that they are unable to process and sell in a timely manner (i.e., before the food goes bad). This is where we come in! Farms will call on us to help harvest, wash, and distribute this food.

After getting the call, CFC gathers a group of volunteers and heads into the field to pick! However, we’re not always picking veggies directly. Last week we went to Windflower Farm because they had three orchard bins full of sweet potatoes they weren’t going to be able to use. We showed up with our volunteer crew and sorted through the bins, discarded those compromised spuds, and sorted the suitable potatoes into smaller boxes to distribute to our Food Centers and various partners. We gleaned 1,825 lbs. of sweet potatoes that day! Last summer we participated in about 15 gleans total, collecting apples, blueberries, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and more.

Farm gleans are just one type of gleaning that our organization participates in. We also regularly collect food from our retail partners to distribute at our Food Centers. In 2022, we recovered 39,515 lbs. of food from our partnership with Greenwich Hannaford! We are expanding our retail food recovery this year to include sites in Wilton.

What are the Benefits to Gleaning?

  • Reduces Food Waste: In addition to preventing produce from being wasted, gleaning also increases the amount of locally sourced food distributed.

  • Feeds the Community: Gleaning increases the overall amount of food we distribute through our various agencies and programs. Gleaning enhances community connection to local farms and fosters a sense of interconnectedness and mutual support.

  • Provides Fresh & Healthy Food: Gleaning allows us to stock our Food Centers and partner agencies with healthy, whole foods. This gives us the opportunity to introduce individuals to produce they may be unfamiliar with.

Hick's Orchard Glean 10.22.22

How Can You Help?

Join our Glean Team! You may be interested in this type of volunteer opportunity if you are able to bend and kneel comfortably and lift 30+ lbs., since gleaning tends to involve more physical labor than other types of volunteering. This is also a great volunteer opportunity for those who may be available on weekdays and on short notice. We are able to plan ahead for a handful of structured gleans each year, like our wildly successful Hick’s Apple Orchard glean last summer, but oftentimes the opportunities are much more sporadic and unpredictable. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, fill out our volunteer application and note that you want to be added to the glean team!

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