Since Glean Kentucky expanded to South Central Kentucky last September, we have formed partnerships with a number of farms and nonprofit organizations in the region. The very first partnership we formed was with Top Crops, a nonprofit organization that operates a garden in Bowling Green with the help of volunteers. Top Crops is unique because of the two roles it fills. In addition to providing fresh, local produce year-round for the community in Bowling Green, Top Crops serves the community by providing educational and training opportunities for individuals with special needs. Top Crops provides a social outlet for adults with special needs, who gather each Friday to harvest produce and each Saturday to sell it at Community Farmers Market, another nonprofit organization with which Glean Kentucky has a partnership. The gardeners learn a variety of skills, such as vegetable and flower production, customer service, and basic financial transaction skills, through their participation in Top Crops’ programming. They are able to engage with the community each week at the farmers market and provide consumers with healthy, local, and affordable produce.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Top Crops’ regular programming has been paused because its model of community gardening posed a potential health risk for participants. The number of volunteers who harvest produce each week has been reduced to minimize the risk of transmission. To continue to serve the community, Top Crops has donated its harvests to the Community Farmers Market to benefit its Fresh Rx Program for Moms and Double Dollars Program, two programs that aim to make local food more affordable and accessible. Additionally, Top Crops has partnered with Glean Kentucky to organize several on-site farm gleans that have supported local nonprofit feeding programs.
We are so thankful for Top Crops and our other partners in South Central Kentucky. If you are interested in joining our efforts to expand gleaning throughout South Central Kentucky through volunteering, donating surplus produce, or partnering with us to receive donations of produce, call us at 859-444-4769 or email Elaine, our local Field Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.