Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gleaning Corn For Charity In Belle Glade, Florida

Fruits and vegetables for everyone that's what gleaning is about. It is an ancient, charitable practice of harvesting crops farmers can't sell because of age or appearance. The crop is then distributed to lower income and less fortunate people through food banks and soup kitchens.

Volunteers gleaning sweet corn from a farm in Belle Glade, Fla.
In May, Christians Reaching Out To Society, Inc (C.R.O.S.)  Ministries joined forces with the Lake Worth, Florida, branch of the First Congregational United Church of Christ and other churches for a sweet corn gleaning day. Twenty or so people wearing long sleeves, long pants, heavy garden gloves, and hats turned up at the Belle Glade farm for the three hour event.

After introductions and paperwork directions were given, C.R.O.S. Ministries Field Supervisor Jackie bowed her head, and said a morning prayer of thanks.

Farmer John Allen at Sweet Corn gleaning event,
Belle Glade, Fla.
Then she asked farm John Allen to explain what to harvest as she showed participants how.

Allen explained, "Normally the plant only has one good ear at the top." Jackie demonstrated by walking into the field, grabbing a top ear of corn off a stalk, tearing it open and revealing mature rows of corn. "If it's big and fat, keep it," Allen said.

Volunteers assemble boxes for sweet corn gleaning,
Belle Glade, Fla.
Next, volunteers assembled the boxes they would be filling, and carried them into the corn field. When the boxes were full, they were to be moved to the end of a row and loaded onto a pick-up truck that would carry them to a waiting semi-trailer.

Gleaning volunteers load boxes of sweet corn onto pickup,
Belle Glade. Fla.
The ground was a bit softer than expected but on the third attempt, the pickup, driven by Luis Ortiz, C.R.O.S. Volunteer Supervisor, was able to gain access to the field.

Volunteer Rick Williams of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said, "We were looking for a service project and any age can do this."

Nick Petersen and Mike Mallen load sweet corn filled boxes
onto Palm Beach County Food Bank's semi-trailer, Belle
It was hot and as the near cloudless day progressed the heat only increased. But this did not stop participants from filling over 160 boxes of corn.

I asked volunteer Suzanne Materson why she came out to the gleaning event, "I like to remind myself every once and awhile how easy I have it."

If you want to learn more about C.R.O.S Ministries volunteer gleaning events go to http://www.crosministries.org/gleaning.htm 


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