By Julie Schubert
I moved to Rutland this past August to serve as the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link’s (RAFFL) AmeriCorps VISTA Glean Team Coordinator. After moving to Rutland, my weekly adventure to the Rutland Downtown Farmers Market quickly became one of my favorite Vermont activities.
The Saturday farmers market is always abuzz with people, conversation, and - of course - an abundance of delicious produce. Everywhere you look there are the most beautiful vegetables you’ve ever seen until you turn your head to find more stunning vegetables.
But, have you ever wondered what happens at the end of the market? What about those veggies that are not scooped up and taken to a nice home to be cooked into a delicious meal?
As the market is being disassembled, RAFFL’s Glean Team is hard at work. As the Glean Team’s Coordinator, I set up a station each week at the end of the farmers market to take in, weigh, and box up unsold produce that the farmers were not able to sell. Community volunteers help me collect and weigh this produce, most of which would otherwise go unused.
After we finish at the farmers market, all of the produce is taken to the Vermont Foodbank to be stored. On Mondays, Glean Team volunteers deliver the produce from the farmers market to charitable organizations throughout Rutland County.
This harvest season has already been a record year for the Glean Team. Over 5,000 pounds of produce were gleaned from the Rutland Downtown Farmers Market, contributing to the Glean Team’s year-to-date total of over 30,000 pounds of gleaned produce!
Many farms that you know and love from the farmers market donated their extra produce to the Glean Team, including Alchemy Gardens, Boardman Hill Farm, Breezy Meadow Orchards & Nursery, Brown’s Orchard & Farm Stand, Clark Farm, Dutchess Farm, Evening Song Farm, Radical Roots Farm, Right Mind Farm, and Yoder Farm.
Collectively, these farms gave a wide range of vegetables, from cucumbers to lettuce mixes, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and much more. This produce was delivered to 22 food shelves and community sites in the Rutland region, helping to make sure that everyone in our region has access to fresh, healthy food.
As the cold weather approaches, the farmers market has moved indoors to the Vermont Farmers Food Center. The market is open Wednesdays from 3pm to 6pm and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.
The Glean Team has scheduled three produce pickups during the winter market. The first is Saturday, November 21. The produce gleaned from this day will be used to help fill the Fall Health Care Share pick-up on Monday, November 23.
Towards the end of the winter season, the Glean Team will set up at the winter farmers market on March 12 and April 16. The Glean Team is also “on call” throughout the winter to rescue any surplus produce and deliver it to a good home!
Julie Schubert is the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link’s AmeriCorps VISTA Glean Team coordinator serving from August 2015 to August 2016.