Farmers share bounties through local gleaning program

#gleanteam provides fresh produce to Cullman’s population in need

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Through a local gleaning program, farmers donate surplus produce to local nonprofit organizations. (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Saturday morning at the Cullman Festhalle Farmers’ Market, local farmer and Master Gardener Brad Mitchell of Legacy Farms dropped off his surplus crops to Linda Holland, who works at the North Alabama Agriplex. His donation will be distributed, along with those of many other farmers, to a variety of nonprofit organizations throughout the community.  

Mitchell shared his motivation, saying, “I want to be able to give back to the community. We’re truly blessed to have a place to grow crops, and God has given us the ability to do it and a means.

“I worked in commercial nuclear power for my whole career. My days started at 4:30 in the morning and I would get home at 6:30 at night. That was seven days a week. As a result, I never had the opportunity to give back to the community.”

Mitchell is part of Cullman’s #gleanteam, a joint venture of the Society of St. Andrew, the North Alabama Agriplex and the Cullman County Extension office.

The program allows farmers to glean (or gather) their leftover crops and donate them to nonprofit organizations that provide the fresh produce to local agencies such as Cullman Caring for Kids, Victim Services and Restoring Women’s Outreach, just to name a few.

“A lot of my surplus would probably go in the compost pile. I don’t waste anything, but for years and years nobody wanted the extra produce, and nobody wanted to mess with it. We put up as much as we could. One day, my wife told me not to bring another tomato into the house,” Mitchell laughed.

Local farmers, in addition to bringing in their produce, can call to have their excess crops picked up after harvest or can even schedule volunteers to harvest the crops themselves.

“This is a wonderful avenue to be able to give back. It makes it so easy for me to give back,” said Mitchell. “I don’t have to make the contacts. The gleaning team has such a great contact list and know(s) which agency needs what, so it’s a much more efficient way of doing things.”

Farmers and home gardeners interested in participating can contact the #gleanteam at 256-402-3398. Receipts for tax purposes are provided.

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