In 2017, the Merrymeeting Gleaners were able to expand in more ways than one. With over 22,000 pounds of produce collected, the Gleaners have been able to reach more recipients through their all-volunteer group. We participated in the first annual Maine Gleaning Week, a collective effort by all gleaning programs in Maine to harvest the bountiful fall produce and to bring in others who may not have been involved in gleaning before. The “Glean with a Friend” event at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham did just that. Twenty people came to get their hands dirty, half of which were new to the group. That day alone, 740 lbs of produce was collected and donated to 10 partners.
During the “Glean with a Friend” event, the Merrymeeting Gleaners were also able to christen their cold storage trailer. This project was made possible by grants from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and Bowdoin College. It will allow more produce to be stored, which creates greater flexibility for organizations with limited hours and no cold storage of their own. This increases the amount of produce we can provide.
In 2018, the Gleaners hope to expand outreach to organizations that may benefit from receiving produce, spread the word to farms that may want to donate, and increase the number of consistent volunteers.