Community Note: Gleaners celebrate a bountiful year

​Gleaning volunteers, from left: Nicola Blake, Gerry and Jacqueline Hokanson, Jamie O'Gorman​, Debbie Dean, Marjorie Peirce, Kevin Brennan, Scott Carroll, Mary Wolverton, Preeti Datta, Uma Datta, John Best. — Photo by Jim Malkin

Island Grown Initiative (IGI) gleaning volunteers, contributing farmers, and representatives from recipient organizations gathered to celebrate a successful season of produce rescue on Sunday evening, December 7, at The Chilmark Community Center. Over the course of 60 gleans in 2014, volunteers harvested and distributed about 20,000 pounds of nutritious, delicious, Island grown produce (free of charge) to 20 different Island organizations.

IGI gleaning participants were treated to a three-course meal consisting of at least 90 percent local foods obtained from Island farms and made by Island businesses and volunteers. The dinner started with potato leek soup, Beth’s Bakery bread, and the O’Gormans’ pesto for dipping; the main course included parmesan turnips, mashed squash, roasted garlic potatoes, roasted root vegetable, local rotisseried chicken and beans. A delectable highlight was ginger pear cake, homemade by Barrett Grazioso of the Charter School, accompanied by Chilmark Chocolates. The meal was cooked with generously donated food from Morning Glory Farm, Whippoorwill and IGI Thimble Farm. Lively and soothing music was provided by Rick O’Gorman and Mary Wolverton.

The evening’s speakers included Armen Hanjian of Island Food Pantry who spoke about how gleaning supplements the food they distribute and that “some days clients were able to take a second bag of vegetables thanks to our harvest.” He also quoted Leviticus and discussed the 5,000-year history of gleaning and Torah/Old Testament references. Betty Burton from Serving Hands spoke about her work with the Vineyard Committee on Hunger and Family-to-Family Holiday meals. IGI supplies them with a lot of veggies to distribute. Keith Wilda, IGI Executive Director, talked about some of the impacts of IGI Programs on the local food movement here on Martha’s Vineyard. Simon Athearn of Morning Glory Farm spoke about reasons why farmers have excess or unsaleable crops and working with the “joyful” volunteers at Island Grown Gleaning. Kevin Brennan, IGI Gleaning program assistant, reviewed his history with the program and thanked Rebecca Gilbert, the first program coordinator.

Awards were presented to Jennifer Sepanara for Persistence, Jim Athearn for Lowering His Standards, Carol Collins for Skunk Whisperer, Jessica Roddy for Most Disappointing Gleaner, Marjorie Pierce for Faithful Gleaner, Uma Datta, Priya Datta, and Preeti Datta each received a Gleaning Seva Award.