Two Glean and Share training events were held in the early morning on two Saturdays in June. Nine gleaners gathered a total harvest of 300 pounds of mostly swiss chard and a little kale at the Our Harvest Cooperative at Bahr Farm in College Hill.
The Glean team harvested, washed and delivered the fresh chard and kale to eight destinations in five communities in greater Cincinnati. Recipients included St. Pius Place in South Cumminsville, Church of Our Savior in Mt Auburn, Open Door Ministries in Walnut Hills and two locations of Shelterhouse.
Our Harvest lead farmer Stephen Dienger was appreciative of the gleaning of slightly flawed chard leaves that had been damaged by heavy rains. Removal of these “perimeter” leaves paved the way for the chard plant to grow new leaves within a week for the Harvest Box CSA and other customers.
Here are just a few of the thoughts from the gleaners
“I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a real operating farm in action and to be a part of the process. We also got to meet new people and have interesting conversations about what efforts we’re making in Walnut Hills to address being a food desert and how we’re trying to reduce food insecurity.”
“I was amazed by the beautiful plants from which we were invited to glean — the Swiss chard was vibrant, incredibly fresh, and surely delicious to eat. And it seemed that not only were we able to help feed a lot of people … it seems we were able to provide a helpful service to Stephen and Our Harvest by removing the Swiss chard that they wouldn’t be able to sell and the outlier leaves which then prepared those plants to grow more heartily …”
“It was fun to be a part of this! The chard was a fairly easy thing to harvest, and it wasn’t too terribly hot, yet, when we did it. I also enjoyed using the washing tub on some of the chard, and seeing the processing operation at Bahr Farm. Farmer Stephen’s bare feet were a great reminder of the importance of our contact with the earth in so many ways. I used to walk all over my neighborhood, barefoot. Not the same as working on soil, but I loved it, nonetheless!”
“Farming has a natural spirituality. As a farmer, one witnesses the dependence on rain and sunshine. There is a diminishing presence in farming in our country and people are losing connection to where their food comes from and caring for our earth. It was delightful, like a breath of fresh air (God presence) to see the Bahr Farm in the midst of College Hill. Someone had to plant (gratitude) … many hands coming together can accomplish a lot, even if it is just one hour of time. This was ironic that the hymn at our church on Sunday (after gleaning) was “God’s whose farm is all of creation.”
A beautiful blueberry connection was made to the project by Glean team member and farmer advocate Mary Hutten. Thanks to Mary, two additional Glean and Share events were held in the early morning on July 13 and 14. Seven gleaners harvested a total of 42 pounds of ripe blueberries at the Bee Haven Farm in New Richmond. Property owners Samantha and Scott Gordon welcomed gleaners with open arms and loving hearts. We learned about bees, birds, blueberries, buckets and nets.
Friday’s gleaners talked about food deserts, food justice, the impact of trauma on children and food as medicine. We reflected on “low hanging fruit” and making the world a better place. Friday’s blueberries were shared with the food pantry at Goshen United Methodist Church, a Goshen based assisted living facility and the LIFE Food Pantry at Prince of Peace Church in Loveland.
The executive director of the LIFE Food Pantry told us, “The berries were all gone immediately – EVERYONE wanted them. The volunteers sampled and declared them “luscious” (including me!), and we heard excited conversation from clients regarding muffins, pancakes, pies, fruit salad, and one very realistic woman that said she’d love to make them into something but they wouldn’t last long enough around her family to get to the kitchen, much less in the oven! We are so very grateful for the blessing of fresh fruit.”
Saturday’s gleaners discussed experiences working with school children and the many challenges they face and techniques to teach children to deal with stress and trauma, such as meditation and nature therapy. The takeaway message from the day was simple – let us find a way to treat one another with kindness. Saturday’s blueberries were shared with Queen City Kitchen and the Mercy Neighborhood food pantry in Walnut Hills.
NEXT UP – SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2018
We will glean and share tomatoes near the end of the 2018 tomato harvest at the Bahr Farm. We also hope to glean and share apples from a local fruit farm in the fall.
The goals of the Glean and Share pilot project are to feed hungry people, reduce food waste and establish a chapter of the Society of St. Andrew in southwest Ohio to support and sustain gleaning in 2019 and beyond. Everything else that happens is icing on the cake by the grace of God.
Mike Eck is a Food Justice Advocate and is actively involved in the local organic food movement in southwest Ohio. He and his wife, Denise, are members of Christ Church, Glendale.