As I wrap up my first year of service on the Association of Gleaning Organization’s founding Board of Directors, I am more grateful than ever that Glean Kentucky has a seat at the table. The Association of Gleaning Organizations, or AGO for short, was created to build the capacity of organizations recovering fresh fruits and vegetables from farms, gardens, and backyards across North America by creating data-backed metrics for success, opportunities for networking among members, and a platform for sharing best-practices.

In addition to assisting AGO build its own internal infrastructure during its first year of existence, I have already been able to benefit from creating and sharing digital space with gleaners across the continent. Monthly virtual coffee chats allowed gleaners to compare notes as the pandemic’s impacts rolled across the country last year and have continued to provide a platform for organizations  – new and old, rural and urban, large and small – to learn from each other.

Building on the success of these connections, AGO recently launched a mentorship program in which Glean Kentucky was able to serve as an inaugural mentor. I was paired with Falon McGinty of the Good Food Collective in Durango, CO and we’ve met regularly to discuss a wide range of topics related to gleaning. Despite serving as the mentor in this arrangement, I’ve certainly learned my fair share from Falon. 

Perhaps AGO’s most transformative project, the Gleaning Census, will be released later this summer. This report will serve as the first attempt to understand gleaning and its impact across North America. Preliminary data indicates that there is a plethora of models, terminology, and data points in use by dozens of organizations. Harnessing this creativity will pave the way for better practices, standard operating procedures, and increased credibility across the industry.

I am so proud that Glean Kentucky is a leader in these efforts, allowing us to bring the very best strategy and largest impact to every corner of the commonwealth.