All over the island this season, people have been remarking about the incredible bounty of fruit we had this year. What a bumper crop! It’s meant a seriously fruitful season of the Gleaning Project. Once again, I’ve been amazed at the generosity of this community, and at how lucky we are to share this fertile place that has been so well stewarded. Many of the trees we pick are over 100 years old!
Here’s some of what our volunteer pickers have had to say about the Gleaning Project:
“I really was amazed are how much I enjoyed gleaning alongside members of my community that either I had not yet met or had not seen for a while. Gleaning is a group activity and builds connection and community. I also learned a lot about the antique fruit I was gleaning.” “It really helps me save food for the winter when it becomes very expensive.” “I felt that I was able to connect with more elders in my community, and hear about how they were going to use and enjoy their gleaned fruit. I really like hearing different peoples’ recipes and ideas as it feeds inspiration.” “As a single mom with limited access to growing space, my family is grateful for the access to fresh, local produce.”
This year, the Gleaning Project brought 67 volunteers together to pick 5,500 lbs of produce, including assorted varieties of blackberries, tayberries, raspberries, marionberries, currants, plums, crabapples, apples, pears, Asian pears, and quinces. There was one epic day in mid-September when we picked 988lbs in a single day! The volunteers who come out find and share all kinds of creative ways to use the harvest for their families: drying, pickling, canning, and of course just fresh eating. I noticed a growing enthusiasm for making hard cider with so many apples to use up.
The Food Program’s share was distributed to the school kids and families in need, as well as used for workshops and community kitchens and events.
This year, twenty landowners reached out and invited us to come pick. We are very grateful for their generosity – without it there would be no Gleaning Project. Thank you everyone, and see you next year! (If you find yourself wishing you’d been part of the fun this year, let me know and I’ll put you on the list for next year so you don’t miss a thing.)