The farmers are the base of the gleaning network. Farmers must know that we are not trying to “take advantage” of them or do anything harmful to their crops, land or business. It is especially important that farmers understand they we have their interests at heart as well as the hungry. Farmers are usually a part of a close network and one bad experience can spread like wildfire. Farmers are perhaps the most important component of our work. When in doubt, do whatever necessary to make the farmer happy.
A. Recruiting Farmers
B. What To Say To Farmers Contacting Farmers: If you have a farm office number, you may be able to contact a farmer during the day; however, it is often easier to catch a farmer at home after dark. Some farmers may respond better to a personal visit. When calling: Let the farmer know as soon as possible that you are NOT interested in money. Tell the farmer in general terms what your organization does and ask if they might be interested in having their field gleaned. Depending on the farmer’s response to a first phone call, it may be easier to say a little bit about your organization and then say that you could mail information to the farmer and you will call back after they have seen the material. Make sure that this material is to-the-point and geared specifically for farmers. You may want to include points about liability forms, tax incentives, the Good Samaritan Act, and where the food goes.
Selling points of gleaning:
Let the farmer know that you have a trained volunteer (or you yourself) in the field who will help to supervise the groups that glean. This person ensures that the gleaners are respectful of the farmer’s property. Make sure that the farmer knows that you schedule a specific time when gleaners are in the field with a field supervisors and gleaners are NOT there at other times on their own.
Liability: If the farmer is concerned about this, let them know that the gleaners are asked to sign a waiver. You may want to give them a copy of the waiver to look over, for their own peace of mind. The Good Samaritan Act should cover most aspects but the liability waiver is an additional precaution.
Tax Credit (if applicable, your organization must be registered with the Federal Government): Let the farmer know if your state has a tax credit for gleaned produce. Also let them know about the Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction.
Things to find out from farmers:
Ultimately, the goal of the initial conversation is to help farmers to understand what your organization does and how a partnership will benefits them. Help them to know that you are concerned for them; you won’t take any produce that they could sell, just what would otherwise go to waste. You don’t allow our recipients to sell the gleaned produce or compete with the farmers’ sales in any way. Farmers and Growers are, as a demographic, are extremely independent and reject the concept of “hand-outs” for themselves and often others. Gleaning is about empowering farmers and helping the community they live and farm in.
C. Maintaining Contact with Farmers
Most farmers like you to keep in contact with them year round—even when they are not growing or you are not actively gleaning with them. There are a variety of ways to do this:
D. Scheduling Gleanings with a Farmer
Agencies are the third side of the triangle of gleaning. Agencies are the places where gleaned food is distributed to those who are in need. Agencies can take a variety of forms. The goal is to get the produce onto the tables of hungry persons as quickly and efficiently as possible.
B. Finding Agencies
C. Scheduling Distribution
Society of St. Andrew, Georgia Gleaning Network opened in Tifton in 2007. Tifton is a southwest Georgia town with a population of about 20,000 citizens but rich with crop farmers and central to rural Georgia. Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) covers a gleaning operation for the state of Georgia, overseen by the Program Coordinator. The state currently has one Hunger Advocate based in Cleveland, Georgia, covering the mountain region in North Georgia. The focus area of SoSA’s work, south rural Georgia, presents several challenges including transportation for volunteers, recipients, and aging populations, a lack of economic development in small communities, limited access to the internet, lack of access to fresh produce, and racially divided communities. Georgia ranks ninth in the nation when it comes to senior food insecurity, and the overall food insecurity for the state was 15.1 percent in 2016. As of November 2017, the Georgia Gleaning Network has collected 1.3 million pounds of produce that have been distributed to community agencies throughout the state.
The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) is a domestic faith-based non-profit, focused on hunger-relief and food advocacy, with the Georgia Branch located in Tifton, Georgia. SoSA operates a volunteer-driven Gleaning Network in Georgia that includes volunteers who save fresh produce every year and use it to feed hungry people all across the state. The Americorps VISTA works alongside the Program Coordinator in Tifton and state director in Atlanta, gathering best practices of gleaning to expand the gleaning network to other regions in South Georgia. Through the Georgia Gleaning Network, we coordinate volunteers in many areas of the state who enter fields after farmers have finished harvesting and simply pick up the tons of good produce left behind. Our volunteers represent groups from various church denominations, synagogues, youth groups, other civic organizations, individuals, and inner-city residents.
Background of Operations
Society of St. Andrew’s success is built on strong relationships with local influencers, individuals, communities and civic organizations. The collection of these partnerships with Society of St. Andrew is called the Gleaning Network. Given the Gleaning Network’s importance, it’s necessary to determine the key factors for sustainable growth. The most influential factors being, whether it precludes or includes the potential partner, are opportunity, distribution/ logistical barriers and the area's rate of food insecurity in that community. The types of relationships integral to operations will be addresses below and include Volunteer, Farmers, and Agencies. Society of St. Andrew cultivates will be addressed in the section Gleaning Model.
The three sides of a triangle in Graphic 1 create the gleaning model for SoSA. Each one is important to the process and SoSA’s mission could not be done without all three. The key groups are defined as Volunteers, Agencies, and Farmers. Agencies SoSAs distribute to, Farmers or growers that donate Society of St. Andrew/Rotary First Harvest Resource Guide 4 produce and trained glean teams volunteers donate their time too. Without any one of these three, the structure would collapse. The Gleaning Model (graphic 1) is the visual depiction of Society of St. Andrew’s Gleaning Network. As mentioned in the previous section, the relationships are key in the organization's success so SOSA has created an efficient and effective information database to determine success. The database tracks many metrics but most importantly pounds donated by growers/producers, community service hours by a group or individual volunteer, and pounds distributed to receiving agencies.