This post is written by Food For Free Intern Chelsea Westra.
In the midst of this holiday season, we are grateful for the hard work and beautiful produce provided through the Boston Area Gleaner’s (BAG) second-annual 10 Tons in 10 Days event. While BAG is generally a major produce provider for Food For Free, this event was created to focus on providing specific produce for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“[Food for Free] tallied how much they wanted and it was about ten tons, so we said we could make it in the ten days before Thanksgiving,” said Matt Crawford, Lead Gleaning Coordinator at BAG.
Ten Tons of Thanksgiving produce
Produce—including carrots, potatoes, winter squash, apples and greens—is gleaned from a variety of local farms, including Kimball Fruit Farm (Pepperell, MA), The Food Project (Lincoln, MA) and Ward’s Berry Farm (Sharon, MA).
The Gleaners coordinated trips to these farms, where staff and volunteers harvested produce that would have otherwise been left in the fields. Once harvested and washed, produce was turned over to Food For Free for distribution to provide traditional Thanksgiving produce to over 30 pantries and meal programs.
From field to plate
“There’s a reason most of these items are eaten at Thanksgiving: because this is when they’re usually harvested,” said Matt.
“Since we’ve been around, BAG has been a major produce donator. Some of the best produce we’re able to distribute comes from the Gleaners,” said Ryan Lee, Operations Director at Food For Free. “[10 Tons in 10 Days] is really an astounding feat.”
With new equipment this year, including a big box truck, root washer and cold storage unit, the Gleaners surpassed their 10-ton goal in the first three days of the event.
“It takes both increased staff time and volunteer involvement,” Matt said. “People are really stepping up to the plate to make sure other’s plates aren’t empty.”