The end of the year is rapidly approaching, temperatures are dropping, fall seems to have finally arrived, and our farm partners are inviting us out for final gleanings. The season is closing out and 2021 is nearly over. This has been a very different year from 2020 for gleaning in Central Kentucky, particularly related to on-farm harvesting. Last year – if memory serves – we received perhaps three harvest requests from farmers throughout the entire season. The pandemic lockdown and the restaurant closures that followed kept people at home and cooking more meals for themselves, driving up the demand for fresh, local produce. Growers were selling nearly everything they grew, leaving little to donate.
The 2021 growing season has been a different beast. This spring, restrictions lifted, restaurants reopened, and people excitedly left their houses after a long year away. As a result, we received more requests from farmers for on-farm pickups and harvests by the third week of May than the entire 2020 growing season. And calls just kept coming.
We’re fortunate to have had so many opportunities to partner with farmers all over Central Kentucky, whether at the Franklin, Woodford, or Lexington Farmers’ Markets, the UK Horticultural Research Farm, the Children’s Garden at The Arboretum (who grew crops specifically to donate to Glean Kentucky this year), the Berea College Farm, Stonehedge Farm, Baldwin Farm, Reed Valley Orchard, and so many others. Farmers’ generosity, their unwillingness to let their labor go to waste, and their desire to get their produce into the hands of people who need it has never been more apparent than it has this season.
To every farm and farmer that donated produce to Glean Kentucky this season: Thank you.