Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gleaning for AFAC: CVN’s Outing to the Countryside

On September 17 a group of CVN volunteers headed out to the apple country around Winchester, VA to make a difference for people right here in Arlington. Every summer and fall the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) enlists volunteers from our community to pick slightly damaged fruits and vegetables at farms in Maryland and Virginia. Known as “gleaning,” this practice provides nutritious and tasty food to people in need while giving farmers an outlet for crops that would otherwise go to waste.

Gleaning requires lots of volunteers—people willing to venture out of the city and take on jobs that require bending, lifting, and getting very muddy/sweaty/soaking wet depending on the weather! CVN volunteers answered that call last Saturday and, despite the rain, gathered bag after bag of apples from beneath the trees at Marker Miller Orchards in Winchester (no picking off the trees, we learned, because the apples on the ground will start to spoil first).

The group had fun working together and alongside volunteers from other Northern Virginia community organizations. After packing the truck with apples, we headed over to the country market for cider, doughnuts, and local wine. What a sweet event! (See more pictures here.)

First-time CVN leaders Rachelle Stoll and Babak Yaghmaei did a fantastic job organizing the event, dealing with last minute changes, and creating a fun team dynamic. They share some of their insights from the day below.

What three words describe your experience gleaning?

Babak: Humbling, Wet, Satisfying

Rachelle: Fun, Rewarding, Yummy

What did you learn about apples/orchards/farms that CVN blog readers might not know?

Rachelle: Don't wash apples until just before you are ready to use them to prevent spoilage. Keeping the apples cool after picking them increases their shelf life.

Babak: Watch for the poison ivy! Did not know poison ivy is so abundant around apple trees.

What was the funniest/sweetest/most interesting thing that another volunteer did in the orchard?

Babak: Everyone was willing to stay as long as it took and wanted to keep picking. That to me was sweet and interesting with a side of funny.

Rachelle: By far the funniest—all the little piglets were running away from us until Michelle discovered she could speak their language. She began making a "snorting piglet noise" and they all came running back over to the fence to check us out!!!

Why should other CVN volunteers participate in gleaning next year?

Rachelle: You are providing healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks while reducing the waste of unused fruits and vegetables.

Babak: More volunteers equals more food for those less fortunate. More volunteers also means more farms to partner with.

If you want to lead a CVN as fun and exciting as Rachelle and Babak did, step right up! Training will be provided and support shared along the way. Email for more information.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds awesome! Thanks to Rachelle and Babak for leading such a great event and to all of the volunteers. I hope CVN can do this again next year!