Gleaning

Gleaning volunteers harvest produce that otherwise would not be harvested from one of the independent farm businesses located at the Prairie Crossing Farm. These fresh vegetables are then delivered to a local food pantry for distribution to their clients. Gleaning is a great way to volunteer and know you’re making a difference in your community, and to increase access to fresh healthy foods. We appreciate the partnership with Prairie Wind Family Farm which makes this program possible.

Upcoming Dates

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Looking for a fun and meaningful volunteer activity that enables your family to make a difference in your local community? Come glean with the Liberty Prairie Foundation during several gleaning events throughout the summer and fall, depending on crop availability.

If you are interested, email gleaning(at)libertyprairie.org to RSVP to a specific date (please include the number of people in your group and ages of any children) or to be notified of upcoming gleaning dates. If you are unable to commit to the entire time for a gleaning date, please provide a time frame starting on the hour (for example from 1 – 3 p.m. or 2 – 5 p.m.) so we can plan to distribute volunteers accordingly. We ask that you commit at least one hour.

All ages are welcome to participate in this hands-on farm work – children must attend with their parents who are responsible for their supervision. The Prairie Crossing Farm is a working organic farm, and all participants will be required to sign a liability waiver. Please remember that volunteers will be entering a working organic farm, and harvesting from for-profit organic farmers who have invited us into their fields. Safety is important both for all volunteers and for the farmers’ crops and livelihood.

Dates are subject to change or be cancelled due to poor weather conditions or insufficient volunteer numbers. Please RSVP to Gleaning(at)libertyprairie.org to receive important communications in case of changes or cancellations.

Outcomes

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Since the gleaning program began in 2010, more than 5.5 tons of fresh, healthy vegetables have been gleaned by volunteers and delivered to local food pantries such as Roberti Community House, Holy Family Food Pantry, Avon Township Food Pantry, COOL Food Pantry, Community Christian Church Food Pantry, and more.

Specific outcomes this season include:

  • June 19, 2016 – 282.4 pounds of lettuce and radishes were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms fields and delivered to Roberti Community House and Holy Family Food Pantry in Waukegan.
  • June 23, 2016 – Sandbox Organics donated 46.3 pounds of turnips from their cooler to Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Park City location.
  • June 26, 2016 – 263 pounds of lettuce, kohlrabi, and scallions were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to the Community Christian Church of Lake County Food Pantry in Waukegan.
  • July 10, 2016 – 415 pounds of beets, kohlrabi and scallions were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to the Roberti Community House in Waukegan and the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Park City location.
  • July 24, 2016, – 30 pounds of green beans were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to the Roberti Community House in Waukegan.
  • July 31, 2016 – 78 pounds of chard were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to Roberti Community House and the Community Christian Church of Lake County Food Pantry, both in Waukegan.
  • August 7, 2016 – 280 pounds of broccoli, chard and beets were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to Roberti Community House and the Waukegan Free Farmers Market.
  • August 14, 2016 – 187 pounds of lettuce and cabbage were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to Roberti Community House and Northern Illinois Food Bank.
  • August 28, 2016 – 587 pounds of chard, cabbage and zucchini were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to Roberti Community House and Northern Illinois Food Bank.
  • Sept. 11, 2016 – 1,255 pounds of beans, broccoli, chard and zucchini were harvested from Sandhill Family Farms and delivered to Roberti Community House and Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Thanks to the generosity of Prairie Wind Family Farm (formerly Sandhill Family Farms), the 2016 gleaning program has donated approximately 4,680 pounds of vegetables, totaling more than $13,468, to local food pantries and community groups serving vulnerable clients.  Interested in joining us? RSVP to gleaning(at)libertyprairie.org for more information on how you can contribute to this program.

The gleaning project is successful on many fronts. Most importantly, it promotes healthy eating by providing fresh organic vegetables to those who might otherwise have difficulty accessing them. It provides a meaningful volunteer experience by connecting those interested in a hands-on hunger relief opportunity with a chance to make a difference and learn about sustainable agriculture. It supports farm families by promoting an efficient donation process that helps support their local businesses at tax time.

History

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After a farmer completes harvesting a crop, there may still be produce left in the field. It may have superficial damage, be too big or too small, or require more cost in labor than what the farmer would receive by selling it. From an economic and stewardship standpoint, it makes sense for the farmer to till that produce back into the soil to increase fertility for future crops. But throughout history, farmers have invited “gleaners” to salvage what remains. In modern times, humanitarian organizations have organized gleaning programs as a means to address food insecurity.

Our gleaning project began in 2010 through a partnership between Rev. Roland Kuhl from North Suburban Mennonite Church and the Liberty Prairie Foundation. Roland was motivated to get more fresh produce into area food pantries and developed an outreach program to encourage area gardeners to donate their excess produce to food pantries. Eric Carlberg from the Liberty Prairie Foundation saw the potential to increase the produce donations from Prairie Crossing Farmers – who were already donating their market leftovers to area food pantries – by developing a gleaning program. In recent years, the gleaning program has been managed seasonally by the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s Outreach Interns.

Resources

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Gleaning programs are gaining in popularity. If you are interested in starting your own gleaning program, the following resources may be helpful: