Many Hands Make Big Impact: On Farm Gleaning Systems and Healthy Food Access

This year at the NOFA Winter Conference, Aly Martelle partnered with Andrea Solazzo from the Vermont FoodBank to connect with farm workers, farm managers, students, and those interested in food systems to detail how gleaning works at the FoodBank and at ICF.  The goal of the workshop was to highlight the benefits of gleaning, detail best practices that make gleaning easy for farms, to reach people who could implement gleaning on farms they work on, and to increase networking and volunteering.  

ICF has developed a great gleaning system.  Our system is possible because of our dedicated staff, good overall communication, and the consistency and availability of organizations that support gleaning in Chittenden County.  We have organizations that come to the farm twice a week after our harvest days.  Tuesday mornings we have an all staff planning meeting for the week which is a good time to check in about excess crops in the field or seconds that got sorted out at the wash area and need to be donated. With that information, we get in touch with our gleaning partners and find a home for any extra produce.

Gleaning is beneficial to ICF in many ways, but mostly because we are happy to donate food, we enjoy working with nonprofits that are helping to make healthy food more accessible to Vermonters in need, and it's great to get more people into the fields and enjoying the outdoors and the harvest. 

ICF's unique position as a mission driven organization is key to the success of our program.  The ICF board has identified increasing our food donations as an important priority, and this has clearly been supported by the wider ICF membership.  It is fulfilling and engaging to produce tasty and nutritious vegetables, but the real satisfaction comes from getting that food out into the community. 

We partner with several  organizations in the Burlington area who are doing the groundwork to make healthy food more accessible: the Vermont FoodBank, The Intervale Center, NOFA-VT, The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, The Good Food Truck, the O.N.E. Community Dinner, The First United Methodist Church, and UVM Medical Students with the ‘Here to Help Clinic.'

There is always room for more volunteers at the farm on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Visit our Gleaning & Donations page for all the information, or contact the Vermont FoodBank or Intervale Center if you want to help make veggies more accessible in our community.