Today’s blog is a thank you letter, written by Genna Williams, Vermont Foodbank’s gleaning and community outreach coordinator. It was a great gleaning season, and we have many people to thank for our success in sharing fresh, local produce with our neighbors in need. 

As the ground begins to freeze, the Vermont Foodbank would like to thank all the farms that donated fresh produce this past season, and allgleaning the volunteers who helped us capture it. We gleaned more than 66,586 pounds in Southern Vermont, a large portion can be accredited to the endless generosity of Harlow Farm. A family owned farm since 1917 that has been certified organic since 1985. Paul Harlow and his staff work closely with the Vermont Foodbank to ensure their excess harvest goes to the people in our community who need it most. We are truly blessed to work with a business that cares deeply for the health of the land and the people right here in Windham County.

We give sincere thanks to all 80 farms that donated across the state, as well as the Orchards that participated in our Pick for Your Neighbor Program. In Southern Vermont this included: Allen Brothers, Circle Mountain Farm, Clear Brook Farm, Cortland Hill Orchard, Green Mountain Orchards, Harlow Farm, High Meadows Farm, Johnson Farm, Lilac Ridge Farm, New Leaf CSA, Old Athens Farm, Scott Farm, Walker Farm, and Wild Carrot Farm.

This year the Vermont Foodbank’s gleaning team was stronger than ever. In Windham County 256 volunteers worked in the fields, giving a total of 446 hours of time to the harvest of fruits and vegetables that might have otherwise gone to waste. We were joined by schools and organizations including The Greenwood School, The Putney School, Kindle Farm School, Four Rivers Charter School, C&S Wholesale Grocers, The Richard’s Group, Brattleboro Middle School PEAK gleaning carrotsProgram, and Food Connects. Brattleboro Time Trade members earned Time Credits for their service. With the support of the Bennington Communal Harvest crew we were able to expand field gleaning efforts into Bennington County. The backbone of the volunteer support came from individuals who came out week after week throughout the season – special thanks goes out to you!

In 2015 the Vermont Foodbank increased produce distribution to 1.7 million pounds, a record for the Foodbank and an increase of 28% compared to the prior year. Of those 1.7 million pounds, 442,000 pounds came from Vermont farms.

The gleaned produce was quickly distributed through the Vermont Foodbank network of partnering food shelves and meal sites, and at schools, hospitals and housing sites. We would like to thank all of our network partners for working through the complexities that are associated with distributing produce. Your commitment to increasing fresh food access has made a huge d