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July 12, 2013
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Guest column: Community Gleaners put your excess produce in the hands of those in need

The growing season heated up early this year. Gardens are green, growing and producing. So are fruit trees.

My family is thankful for the bounty that the central Douglas County area is able to produce.

To the multitude of farmers and growers of the Umpqua Basin, whether it’s a backyard garden, a row crop field or an orchard, here’s a reminder that when there is a surplus, The Community Gleaners, a 25-member volunteer group, is available to harvest it. The produce is then shared with food banks and nonprofit organizations that pass it on to families and children in need.

There are more than 20 gleaning programs in this state with The Community Gleaners being one of them.

The food bank officials say there’s definitely a need for any surplus food that gleaners can harvest.

Our focus will be going to fields, orchards, gardens and backyards to pick excess fruits and vegetables. Of course, we’re hoping to harvest decent to good crops and not overripe or poor quality food. Only good food can be passed on to food banks and nonprofits.

Virginia Elandt of NeighborWorks Umpqua, the centerpiece for the Think Local Umpqua program, has agreed to take phone calls. Her number is 541-673-4909. Please call that number and ask for her or her voice mail if you have extra produce that can be gleaned.

Craig Reed and myself, the co-coordinators for the gleaning group, will then be notified. We will make a scouting trip to the glean to meet with the producer, explain our gleaner regulations, review the producer’s rules, view the glean, see what is available and how many gleaners will be needed, and set a time(s) for the glean. If the glean is bigger than what our group can harvest, we’ll have a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop lined up to help, giving them a chance to earn badges for community service.

During the glean, there will be at least two crew leaders on-site to make sure both gleaner regulations and producer requests are followed.

The Community Gleaners will partner with Eastside Community Garden on Rifle Range Road in Roseburg and will have liability insurance through the garden’s nonprofit status. The growers are protected by the federal and state Good Samaritan laws.

After the glean, the gleaners will have the option of keeping up to 50 percent of what they harvest for their own purposes or it may be combined with the rest of the glean that will be donated to the UCAN Food Bank, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley, Casa de Belen, Roseburg Rescue Mission, St. Francis Community Kitchen of Sutherlin and others that reach out to those in need. Producers can receive tax credits for their donations.

We thank you for your support of The Community Gleaners and for helping to feed those in need.

Remember, please let us know if you have an interest in participating as a producer and then again when you have a glean.

Gerrie King, a native of Roseburg, is co-coordinator of The Community Gleaners and of the Eastside Community Garden. She can be reached at gerrierking@hotmail.com.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 12, 2013 02:05PM Published Jul 12, 2013 09:40AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.