Fruits of Our Labor

Hey there! I'm Samantha, one of the new Local Food Outreach Interns at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, here to help us get more locally grown produce. On Friday, August 12th, I had the pleasure of going on my first field gleaning, EVER! Not only was it my first time field gleaning, but it was my first time picking apples too! Needless to say, I had no idea what to expect. I met with a group of enthusiastic volunteers at the Central Crops Research Station in Clayton, NC to glean Gala apples. The sun was shining, but it was unseasonably cool. The apple orchard was full of trees bursting with fresh Gala apples that were begging to be picked!

I learned that this gleaning was a collaboration between the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Society of Saint Andrew. They frequently share opportunities with each another, combining volunteers, farm contacts, and resources to get the food to hungry people.

We were shown the two rows of apple trees that needed to be gleaned and given the instructions to pick, pick and pick some more. So, that we did...

The "before picture"

Diane is a veteran gleaner. This was her fourth time.

Gleaning 134

Reaching for it...

I was amazed at the dedication of the field gleaners; they truly stopped at nothing to collect all the apples, standing on buckets and intertwining themselves in apple branches to reach the highest ones.

The fruits of our labor: freshly picked apples, ready to get distributed to local communities.

In only an hour and a half all the apples had been picked! As we scoured the tops of the last trees, a Food Shuttle truck arrived driven by another volunteer, and the volunteers split into two groups to finish the picking and to load the truck. The truck drove between the two rows of trees, and volunteers brought bags and buckets of apples to the truck, while three of us emptied them into large cardboard bins. In the end, we filled two and a half of the bins.

Not bad for a morning's worth of work. After we finished, we all enjoyed a sweet snack. During the break, I had a chance to chat with some of the volunteers. It was so invigorating to hear and see other people as invested in local food and helping distribute food to those in need as myself. Also, it was great to see a group of people coming together to help others in need. The morning was definitely filled with smiles, hard work, sweat, and kindness.

A delicious toast to a job well done!

For me, the car ride back to the food shuttle was full of anticipation. How many pounds of apples did we actually pick? My amateur guess was 1000 pounds...

Well, the scales don't lie. My guess was way off, because we picked over 1820 lbs of apples! WOW, that is nearly 1 ton!

Moment of truth (The blue thing underneath is the scale.)

The apples were distributed to local communities in need through free Mobile Farmer’s Markets and partnering hunger relief agencies. I couldn't help but smile the whole way home from field gleaning. I am officially hooked, and I can not wait to go on another one soon!

To see more photos from gleaning, visit our Flickr photo stream.