Everybody works hard to earn a living and to provide for themselves and others. In terms of a gleaning program this includes the volunteers in the fields, food banks and everyone in between. When a farmer has planned a season in advance, purchased from seed, given time to grow, hours of direct attention, physical space, water, fertilizer, a good weeding or two, and then donated, you better be sure a thank you is in order. A thank you can take many forms but never goes unnoticed. You’ll run into many people who will express the importance of maintaining relationships and program sustainability and they’ll be right. Throughout the gleaning season a farmer should know the value they are adding to the community. Program coordinator and any gleaners involved can share appreciation any time. A thank you card or note at the end of the season is always a good bet as well. Be sincere and personal. An automated thank you is like a display gift, pretty paper but nothing inside.
WSU Extension builds the capacity of individuals, organizations, businesses, and communities, empowering them to find solutions for local issues and to improve their quality of life. The 39 Extension locations throughout the state of Washington offer researched based resources and volunteer programming to communities in efforts to create a culture of life-long learning and is recognized for its accessible, learner-centered, relevant, high-quality, unbiased educational programs. Over 100 years ago The Extension service was originally funded by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 which established the Cooperative Extension service across the country.
The Clallam County Extension, located in Port Angeles, is home to many programs that connect the people and communities of Clallam County with the knowledge base of Washington State University. These programs include: Master Gardeners, 4-H, Small Farms, Waste Reduction, Food and Nutrition, and Water Protection. The Gleaning Coordinator position was created in 2016 to better serve the existing gleaning program. Before the creation of this position the gleaning program had served the community for eight years but never with the attention of a full-time position. Today the gleaning program has over 300 volunteers who pick produce from residential yards, farm production overages, community garden donations and extras from a local farmer’s market. The gleaning coordinator promotes the program by presenting public lectures, reaching out to volunteer organizations, teaching youth groups, attending local events, advertising on social media and by putting out press releases. Homeowners are more than happy to hear there is a volunteer-based organization willing to pick their extra fruit and veggies. Once the produce has been picked a portion is taken home to family and friends and the rest is brought to a local food service program, most often a food bank. The gleaning program takes pride in turning potential food waste into a community resource.