Local Gleaning and Giving | ShareNet

Kitsap Harvest is a gleaning project that is building infrastructure in Kitsap County to support sustainable work into the future.

Kitsap Harvest is a gleaning project that is building infrastructure in Kitsap County to support sustainable work into the future.

Gleaning is the recovery of crops that might otherwise go to waste.

Regionally, the largest organization dedicated to this is Rotary First Harvest, a program of Rotary District 5030 serving greater Seattle. Through Rotary First Harvest, Kitsap Harvest obtained a three-year AmeriCorps VISTA full- time position for their project.

Bremerton Farmers Market manager Julia Zander said Martha Lefebvre will fulfill at least the first year of that contract.

One of Lefebvre’s first charges and biggest challenges will be to secure volunteers and set up a volunteer procurement and scheduling system so gleaning opportunities are staffed as they arise.

Lefebvre has secured volunteers to assist in transporting donations from the Poulsbo Farmers Market to North Kitsap Fishline Food Bank. So far, this is not set up at the Kingston Farmers Market, partly because there have been so few produce vendors there.

In her tour of projects already making significant contributions to stem local hunger, Lefebvre visited Kingston Farm and Garden Co-op’s Giving Garden. She joined several Thursday work parties, according to Kathy Curry, who has donated use of her property for the garden.

As well as helping harvesters, Lefebvre may have hoped to connect with volunteers for Kitsap Harvest’s gleaning projects, not realizing what a challenge we have obtaining enough volunteers for this directly local work.

Even with a few additions this year, Curry said their core volunteer group remains small: Patti Pearson, Kinley Deller, Ed Smith, Nile and Andy Clark, plus newcomers Isobel Crump, Laurel Orwiler, and Melissa Mason.

Curry said they “try to keep it light” with their volunteers, providing cheese and crackers at Saturday work parties, 9-11 a.m.

Thursday work parties are usually from 5:30-6:30 p.m., “until we feel like we’ve gotten something done,” Curry said.

Revisiting the Giving Garden’s progress, Curry said, “Shade cloth does wonders.” The garden was having a problem with birds and bunnies, so they installed plastic netting, which had the unexpected effect of creating a microclimate which helps plants grow really fast.

Volunteers are deep into the weedy part of the garden’s arc, and Ed Smith does a lot of the heavy work, like mowing grass and chopping back the weeds.

Nile Clark has been indispensable in finding suitable varieties for planting, such as the Korean Star melons which have been very successful. This is their first try with melons, and they are flourishing. Another variety about to be harvested is Collective Farm Woman.

Clark has chosen varieties that are early-ripening and have a good reputation for taste and reliability. Winter crops of turnips, radishes, beets, and bok choy are already planted. Chard, kale, and mustard greens will go in next.

The iffy weather has not had that profound an effect on this year’s garden. The beans are not as far along as they’d like, but, “If it’s too chilly for summer squash, your cabbages are probably doing great,” Curry says.

They use a large white board to list jobs, log harvests and schedule volunteers. They are using a seed-sprouting rack on loan.

Clients struggling with hunger and poverty truly appreciate the potential inherent in Kitsap Harvest, and the incredible efforts made by the passionate gardeners of our local Giving Garden. For more details, go to www.growkingston.org/Giving-  Garden.html.

— Contact Mark Ince of ShareNet at director@sharenetfoodbank.org.