Hancock County Farmers Revive Old Tradition 

Fresh food grown in local gardens is feeding people in Hancock County.

The crops were set aside to let neighbors help neighbors.

It may look like just another day on the farm, but these people are gleaning.

According to volunteer Molly Heron, “I’ve talked to several people this week, and said I was going gleaning, and nobody knew what the word meant.”

Gleaning isn’t a new thing. It’s actually a biblical term.

Hannah Semlier of Health Acadia describes gleaning as, “It was kind of a welfare system by which farmers were asked to leave the four corners of their fields unharvested for people in need to come in and harvest it, and it was kind of this informal, yet formal, relationship between farmers and community members.”

It’s been a long time coming, but gleaning has become a reality here in Hancock County.

“We have volunteers at farms all over Hancock County.”

Like here at king hill farm in Penobscot.

This was a new experience for Amanda Provencher of King Hill Farm, “This is the first time we’ve had gleaners. We’ve been talking about it for a long time, but this is the first time people came out.”

The gleaning initiative is a project of healthy Acadia and the university of Maine cooperative extension.  They found teams of volunteers to glean at farms participating in farm drop, an online farmer’s market.

Food collected is then delivered by farmers to farm drop’s central location, and redistributed to food pantries and community meal sites throughout Hancock County.

“It’s either stuff that’s seconds that isn’t the prettiest, but it’s still good to eat. Or, if we’re done harvesting from something and it keeps producing and we don’t need it, then it’s left in the field, and it goes back into the field, so it’s not a total waste, but if someone could be eating that, that’s one step better.”

“We’re a very small farm, but we love to share. It’s so wonderful to give to people and know that they will enjoy it just as much as we do growing it.”

As long as growing stays a way of life here, organizers hope gleaning can also become part of it.

“Become an integrated system where community members area directly in contact with local farms and food pantries and meal sites and that there’s just a gleaning tradition that is something that’s just a part of our daily lives.”