Gleaning: No Food Left Behind
Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Gleaning Initiative, a farm-based food collection and distribution project to address food insecurity and prevent food waste, captured 26,100 pounds of food from nearby farms, gardens, and farmers markets across Hancock and Washington counties in 2018.
Since 2013, the project has gleaned nearly 228,000 pounds of surplus food from local growers, re-distributing it to a network of 35 food pantries, free meal sites, school backpack programs, rehabilitation programs, and health services. Community members who access this fresh produce have the opportunity to maintain a healthy diet, reduce diet-related disease, and achieve higher educational outcomes.
“Due to our gleaning supply from Healthy Acadia, we as a non-profit are able to offer our community fresh and healthful produce that nourishes the body through our food programs and meals prepared throughout the year,” said Gabriella Coniglio of The Common Good Soup Kitchen in Southwest Harbor. “We are so grateful to have this partnership with Healthy Acadia.”
The Gleaning Initiative provides an outlet for farmers and gardeners who end up with an unexpected surplus of fruits or vegetables and don’t want to see it go to waste. Farmers contact project coordinator Rachel Emus when they have unmarketable or surplus produce available for harvest or pickup, and she arrives with trained volunteers to collect the crop. “We love working with Healthy Acadia’s Gleaning Initiative!” said Beech Hill Farm managers Anna Davis and David Levinson. “Through this partnership, we’re able to redirect almost 100% of our surplus produce.”
In 2018, the Gleaning Initiative partnered with the following growers in Hancock and Washington counties:
Annie’s Pride, Bar Harbor Farm, Backstage Farm, Beech Hill Farm, Blue Hill Farmers Market, Blue-Zee Farm, Downeast Family YMCA Camp Discovery Garden, Eden Farmers Market, Ellsworth Farmers Market, Four Season Farm, The Good Life Center, Hope’s Edge Farm, Horsepower Farm, Johnston Orchards, J&P’s Farmstand, King Hill Farm, Mill’s Farm, North Branch Farm, Pat and Mike’s Garden, Rogers Farm, Runwater Farm, Simon’s Hancock Farm & Greenhouse, Two Fox Farm, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Welch Farm, Wise Acre Farm, Folklore Farm, Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, Johnston’s Orchard, Josh Pond Farm, Tide Mill Organic Farm, University of Maine Machias FOOD Club, Washington Academy, Welch Farm, Wreaths Across America, and the many home gardeners who contributed produce throughout the season.
The Downeast Gleaning Initiative is supported by volunteers from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program, grade school classes, college students, and dedicated community members.
Want to get involved? The Gleaning Initiative needs your help to make more harvests happen! Volunteer for one hour, a full day, or for weekly opportunities harvesting or delivering fresh produce. We welcome people of all experience levels. For more information about Hancock County gleaning opportunities, contact Rachel Emus by calling 667-7171 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In Washington County, contact Regina Grabrovac at 255-3741 or email@example.com. Please visit www.healthyacadia.org to learn more about the Downeast Gleaning Initiative and other ways we are working to address food insecurity across the region.