Knox County Gleaners receives Communities Innovation Grant

Mon, 06/17/2024 - 5:15pm

UNION — This June, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) awarded $6,500 from its Communities Innovation Grant to the Knox County Gleaners (KCG), a program of Come Spring Food Pantry in Union. The funds will be used by KCG to contract a volunteer coordinator and purchase gleaning supplies and fuel for distributing produce to food assistance sites.
 
“It is such an honor to be a part of something that supports agriculture in Maine and provides nourishment to our neighbors in need," says Kristie Kosalski, volunteer coordinator of the Knox County Gleaners, in a news release.
 
KCG’s mission is to glean produce to increase food security by harvesting surplus crops in Knox County. Gleaning is an old practice that dates to biblical times when farmers allowed anyone in need to “glean” (collect) crops from recently harvested fields. Today, there is a nation-wide network of gleaning organizations with the shared goals of reducing food waste and increasing food access by collecting and redistributing food that would otherwise go to waste. According to the National Gleaning Project, Knox County Gleaners is one of eleven gleaning organizations in Maine.
 
Since its formation in 2019, KCG has worked with 18 farms, Maine State Prison, and Lincoln County Gleaners, and established 22 distribution sites and a network of 150 volunteers. Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Erickson Fields Preserve in Rockport has been a gleaning site for KCG since the beginning. At Erickson Fields a Teen Ag Crew annual grows thousands of pounds of produce for local food assistance programs.

“MCHT's partnership with Knox County Gleaners has been fundamental to our food security efforts at Erickson Fields,” said Aaron Englander, Associate Director at Aldermere Farm & Erickson Field. “Over the last five years, the Knox County Gleaners increased our annual distribution sites from 9 to 22 and helped harvest more than 50,000 pounds of fresh produce.”

In turn, Erickson Fields has provided annual food safety training for KCG’s volunteers.

The Communities Innovation Fund at MCHT was created in 2023 and is designed to enable MCHT staff to implement new conservation solutions and to create new or improve existing connections with communities throughout Maine.
 
For more information about Come Spring Food Pantry, Knox County Gleaners, and how to volunteer, visit https://comespringfp.org/ and email knoxcountygleaners@gmail.com. For more information about Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Erickson Fields Preserve, visit https://mcht.org/ and https://aldermere.org/ .