Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gleaning Adventure

While we're busy harvesting greens and prepping our beds for winter here on campus, farms in the area have been rushing to get their last summer vegetables harvested before it starts to snow. Ioka Valley Farm invited a team of volunteers to harvest their squash for donation to a local food pantry, a process of sharing the harvest known as "gleaning." Erik Romano '15 had a chance to check it out--here's what he has to report!

"On Sunday October 28th, I had the opportunity of going gleaning pumpkins, squash, and gourds near Ioka Valley Farm. For those who don't know what gleaning is, we basically harvested food that would otherwise go to waste (in this case, it goes to a local pig farm, because "pigs can literally eat anything" according to one of my fellow volunteers) and donated it to the Friendship Center, a food pantry in North Adams. It was a beautiful day, a bit chilly, but the weather was refreshing. There were hundreds of pumpkins, butternut squash and gourds on the field. We obviously couldn't harvest them all seeing as our group of volunteers consisted of around 10 individuals, me being the youngest by far. Unfortunately, a lot of squash was mushy due to the frost, but we picked what we could. We picked varieties including, butternut, delicata, acorn, sugarplum, and hubbard. I didn't know this before, but there are types of pumpkins bred to be jack-o-lanterns and ones bred for consuming, and the ones on the field were large jack-o-lantern-ready pumpkins. There were some smaller, darker orange pumpkins that were pie-ready as well, but fewer in quantity. I loved looking for the craziest alien gourds, which come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Afterward, we stopped by a local school to give pumpkins for carving, and then drove the squash and gourds to the Friendship Center, who was happy to take them off our hands. I had an amazing time, especially since I was helping out those in need!"

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