I love it when life throws in unexpected fun!  Today, I dressed up a little and headed to Owensboro for the Buyer Grower Meet Up in Western Kentucky.  The gathering was organized by the Kentucky Horticulture Council with help from Kentucky Proud, KDA.  It was an opportunity to get Kentucky growers in the same room with buyers, suppliers, distributors, and relevant non-profit agencies.  It was a great opportunity to shake hands and have some conversations with others I may not have met otherwise.

I enjoy meeting people and shortly after I arrived, I found a few people I knew.  What a pleasant surprise!  One person, to whom I was newly introduced, turned out to be Glean Kentucky royalty.  The woman who introduced me to Jim Bryant of Honk’s Cheese, let me know he had donated a van to Glean Kentucky several years ago.  Immediately, I knew it was the van I drive!

Jim and I talked for a while about the vans he donated.  He showed me an “album” on his phone of the whole process.  Stanley Steamer had 5 vans headed to scrap metal.  Jim organized a small army of businesses and friends to bring these vans back to life and prepare them for their new jobs.  One of those vans was donated to Glean Kentucky and I drive that van today!

It’s true, I must use needle nose pliers to control the air and the radio is like a cat (might play, might not, depends).  The doors creak loudly, and the back door won’t unlock from the outside.  After one experience, I learned to leave myself a path to the back door as I load the literal ton of produce in it!  But, like the rest of us, the van has its own unique strengths.   She’s a serious work horse and has been by my side as we navigated the wild west of produce donations in Bowling Green.

This year, we had to put in some costly mechanical work to keep her on the road.  Glean Kentucky was wonderful and worked hard to keep me gleaning while we had the work done.  I know she’s going to need to be replaced before too long.  That will be a bittersweet day.  That van has been my tool for rescuing 70,000 pounds of produce so far this year!  She warms up quick in the winter and can haul a full load like a champ.  Her creaking doors announce my arrival and helpers come out to the sound.

This van reminds me of working/volunteering with a non-profit.  You don’t have to have it all together, flaws exist, age is a mindset, and all effort matters.  Just like the van, we just show up and do the best we can.  Caring for others, and our planet, is one of the most beneficial experiences of my life and that sweet van has been my trusty steed!