The Clallam County Gleaning Program has partnered with one local farmer’s market to recover market produce and baked goods. This partnership set seed when a volunteer gleaner and avid farmer’s market shopper brought it to the attention of the gleaning coordinator. From there the gleaning coordinator talked with the farmer’s market general manager. Fortunately, the general manager was interested in the idea and had brought extra market goods to a local food agency in the past. Finally, the general manager talked with market vendors to encourage them to donate unsold items to the local food bank. Having the market manager on board and with previous food recovery experience was of great benefit.
While the manager talked with market vendors, the gleaning coordinator addressed the question of who was to participate in the farmer’s market gleaning through the weekly newsletter. Once the topic was introduced several gleaners responded with interest. A separate email list was created for all those interested. The group discussed the logistics of when to pick up, where one can drop off on Saturdays, and a system of alternates in case of absences. The market glean was then managed by a leader who was picked because they had the most availability. They were then responsible for notifying the group of when they would be absent and to report the poundage recovered to the gleaning coordinator.
A very simple system modeled after the previous food recovery efforts of the general manager was instituted. A large plastic tub was brought to the market by the working gleaner and was brought to the manager’s booth at the end of the market day. The manager gives reminders to the market vendors that they can donate unsold goods to the local food bank. The gleaner waits for vendors to respond and then brings the recovered goods to the food bank. It’s pretty simple.
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.