The Millstone Farm “Glean Team” made its first visit to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County on Friday, February 24 with a donation of 32 pounds of spinach gleaned from The Hickories, a family-owned farm in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Gleaning at The Hickories was the first of what Millstone’s patrons and farmers intend to be a regular occurrence throughout the 2012 growing season. The goal of Betsy and Jesse Fink, owners of Millstone Farm, is to gather and train a volunteer task force that will harvest fresh food offered up by local farmers and deliver it to those in need. Millstone Farm hopes to engage communities in southern Connecticut and formalize a gleaning program in the area to help local farmers reduce the amount of produce that may go to waste in their fields. Although gleaning is usually thought of as a warm-weather activity, Dina Brewster of The Hickories offered a crop of winter spinach to the Glean Team, prompting the inaugural event. Millstone Farm’s Annie Farrell and three apprentices spent just over an hour harvesting 32 pounds of spinach in one of the farm’s hoop houses. Less than an hour later, managers at the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County happily accepted the leafy greens, which produced 64 servings for their recipients.
Lesley Benton, who began her Millstone Farm apprenticeship in February, said of the gleaning program, “It becomes clear very quickly that farmers must focus on making as much profit as possible from their products, because it’s difficult to make a living in the industry. It is wonderful to feel that, as farmers, we also have so much we can give back to the community. We are not just donating food; we are helping provide wholesome nourishment to those who often do not have any access to it.” To expand the Glean Team, Millstone Farm is looking for enthusiastic volunteers who would like to learn about harvesting vegetables, visit farms in the area when crops are available to glean, and help get fresh food to the hungry in Fairfield County.