WESTMINSTER — A cold, rainy Sunday still saw volunteers gathering at Harlow Farm to get food sent off to New York City.
"We came out to support Theresa (Snow) and her work," said Sherry Maher, a local volunteer, referring to Snow's non-profit Salvation Farms business which seeks to reduce food waste on farms and have people rely more on locally grown foods. "We were gleaning bags of spinach from this field."
Maher pointed to a patch on the Westminster farm where just over 600 pounds of spinach were collected. By 10:30 a.m. a truck was packed with 45 boxes of the vegetable and on its way to Feeding the 5,000, the New York City event on May 10 that aims to provide the public with a free lunch made up of fresh food.
Feedback, an environmental organization based out of London, England, has created a campaign to highlight the issue of global food waste and celebrate available solutions. Feeding the 5,000 is its flagship campaigning event. The goal is to start a global movement to eliminate food waste at every level, according to the group.
The organization contacted Salvation Farms about lending a hand.
"What better farmer to reach out to in the beginning of May about a field gleaning than Paul Harlow," Snow said. "We were really fortunate in contacting Paul to see if we could get folks out to pick some greens. We also engaged with Pete's Greens up in Northern Vermont."
The Craftsbury-based farm is where Snow started her gleaning efforts back in 2004. People can register to glean by visiting vermontgleaningcollective.org. Gleaning is the act of collecting and distributing excess farm foods.
The spinach, Harlow said, was planted last October. If Snow hadn't asked about whether there was anything worth gleaning, the vegetable would have been replanted in the soil.
"We harvested it in the fall. In the spring, we fertilized and cultivated it. It's been perfect spinach-growing weather so we're doing quite well," said Harlow, who also allows groups to come glean his fields to assist the Vermont Foodbank which supplies shelters, soup kitchens and community cupboards with food. "Certain crops can grow in the fall and survive the winter temperatures. They might have a few bad leaves. Spinach is one of the best that survives."
Kale is another, Snow added.
Harlow enjoys watching his "good and organic" vegetables go to children or the elderly who don't have access to it.
"A lot of people go hungry," he said, adding that the issue of food insecurity has ties to education and health. "There's so many layers to it."
About a dozen volunteers showed up Sunday, according to Snow. And they came just when the rain had begun to fall, Harlow noted.
Each person carried a knife and cut the spinach from a point above the ground so it wouldn't get dirty. Then they put the plant in a box.
Harlow, a third generation farmer, is planning a party. The farm will be celebrating its 100th year anniversary in 2017.
Contact Chris Mays at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.