Gleaning is the act of harvesting surplus produce from local farms and Farmers’ Markets. Rather than going to waste, this nutritious food then gets redistributed to the local community. 1 in 7 Mainers struggles with hunger; 1 in 4 children. We believe that everyone in our community should have consistent access to a variety of food that is both local and nutritious.
The Merrymeeting Gleaners began in 2016 as a pilot project of MFC's Food Security work group and with the support of Bath Housing Authority, Bowdoin College, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, the Forest Foundation, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, Six River Farm, the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Office for Sagadahoc and Androscoggin Counties, and many others. This program supports a regional network of existing food security organizations. As a pilot project in 2016, we gleaned over 14,000 pounds of produce, the rough equivalent of 11,700 meals. In 2017, we surpassed this milestone and gleaned over 22,000 pounds of healthy, market-quality food that was supplied to residents of MidCoast Maine. In 2018 we exceeded 49,000 pounds!
Since our start in 2016, we have delivered over 85,000 pounds of food to over 30 local organizations in MidCoast Maine with the help of over 100 volunteers. The Merrymeeting Gleaners cover the following towns: Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Brunswick, Dresden, Georgetown, Harpswell, Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, Westport, and Woolwich. Some of the most commonly gleaned foods have been chard, kale, spinach, bok choy, eggplant, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Gleaners visit Six River Farm in Bowdoinham and Scatter Good Farm in Brunswick as long as there is produce to glean. Gleaning continues through the winter at Goranson Farm in Dresden, the Bath Farmers’ Market and Brunswick Winter Market every week. We are always looking for new volunteers to assist us with our weekly gleaning activities. You can try it out one time or come glean with us as often as several times a week. We have gleaning activities in a variety of locations and have appropriate activities for various activity levels. One time gleaning events such as our apple glean at Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoin are a great way to get involved...check out this video and our Gleaning FAQ!
Donations through the Merrymeeting Gleaners are part of larger statewide efforts including Maine Harvest for Hunger and the Maine Gleaning Network. Maine Harvest for Hunger is a program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; it is a grassroots effort to encourage gardeners, farmers, businesses, schools, civic groups and others to donate high-quality fruits and vegetables to citizens in need. Through county-based networks, produce donated through Harvest for Hunger is delivered to food pantries, soup kitchens, community meals, and individuals across the state. The Maine Gleaning Network is a collaborative farm surplus rescue effort gathering crops from Maine's fields, and engaging communities in a more resourceful and equitable food system.
Come join us for good food, good work, and good people!
This group is comprised of over 100 volunteers with a core group of Team Leaders. We are always looking for volunteers to help with gleaning, distribution, data entry, fundraising, and more. If you are interested in contributing, please reach out and get involved!
*DONATE: if you would like to invite the Merrymeeting Gleaners to your farm or would like to volunteer as a gleaner, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*GLEAN: if you are interested in gleaning, one time or regularly, please complete the digital waiver form here, or scroll to the bottom of the Food Security page and complete it directly there. You can also download the waiver form and bring it with you when you glean.
“We've been very happy with the development of the gleaning program and are very appreciative of all the volunteers hard work,” says Nate Drummond, from Six River Farm. “It's wonderful to see excess produce from our farm being harvested for those in need.”
“Part of the mission of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program is to provide hungry people with access to healthy food. The generous support of local farmers goes a long way toward making this happen. Now, with the addition of the fresh produce we’re receiving from the new gleaning program, we can make even more available to our neighbors in need.” - Ethan Minton, Program Director at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.
The gleaning program has made a tremendous positive impact on our town of Georgetown. We have developed a strong group of volunteers that support the produce pickup, distribution and delivery to those that can't make it to our setup. The school kids have become involved, melding the school garden into the program and helping with the packaging. Many families and individuals are participating and are very grateful for the wonderful donations of fresh vegetables and fruit. We are very appreciative of the team that runs the program and all the volunteers on that end that make it work. Thank you so much. - Representative, Town of Georgetown
I would like to say this is my first experience with Merrymeeting Gleaners, and have used it to supplement my backpack program which goes to food insecure families each week. I know that they are getting fresh produce that they would NOT be able to afford and that is a good thing. - Representative of Woolwich Central School Backpack Program
“I would like to say thank you for the acts of kindness and love in giving the vegetables I have received. I would have not eaten as healthy as I have without the vegetables that you have provided. I was able to save on my food budget so I could put money towards car repairs, medical bills, car registration and my license. I was able to get my dog vet care again. Thank you from my heart! I have been able to have apple crisp for breakfast for weeks, I have had carrot soup for weeks, I had roasted veggies for weeks, I had coleslaw and I took cabbage, carrots, onions and added ham for New England boiled dinners. I have enjoyed homemade oven fries, salads and squash soups. I took some of the veggies and froze them to have this winter and have had onions and garlic for weeks. I will be sad when the veggie season is over. I love having local fresh veggies. It helps me eat healthy and that keeps my doctor happy. I only get $15 in food stamps so this supply of food helps more than you could imagine and in more ways than you could ever dream of.” - Bath Resident
“I want to thank you for all the yummy vegetables you donated this summer and fall. They really helped me out in many ways. the veggies were so fresh and delicious, I made all kinds of healthy meals. I especially loved your beets, parsnips and tomatoes. Thank you so much again and God bless you for donating them. Much gratitude.” - Bath Resident
in the news
Times Record - Merrymeeting Gleaners contribute to Sharing Table in Bath.
Laura McClandlish explores her views and experiences with gleaning and mentions MFC and the Merrymeeting Gleaners in this Portland Press Herald Article.
Times Record - Food pantries benefit from local gleaning - Douglas McIntire.
Times Record - Merrymeeting Gleaners pass 40,000-pound mark.
This work would not be possible without the donations from our generous farm and market vendors including: Apple Creek Farm, Applewald, Pam and Blaine Fortin, Borealis Breads, Crystal Spring Farm, Edgewater Farm, Fairwinds Farm, Farmer’s Daughter, Fishbowl Farm, Goranson Farm, Gray Wing Farm, Hootenany, LOCAL Garden, Meadowbrook Farm, Midnight Meadow Farm, Olivia’s Garden, Patchwork Farm, Pleasant Pond, Rocky Ridge, Rye & Wheat, Sandy Stenquist, Scatter Good Farm/Growing to Give, Six River Farm, Spears Farm, Tarbox Farm, Whatley Farm, and WildFlour Bakery!
This work is made possible by funding from the: Baldwin Family Foundation, Bowdoin College, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Maine Community Foundation, Maine Network of Community Food Councils, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Sagadahoc Chapter of MOFGA, Slow Money Maine, Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, Quimby Family Foundation, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Harvest for Hunger Program, and generous donations.
THANK YOU ALL!