My experience gleaning with Healthy Roots certainly was an enjoyable one. This was my first time gleaning, and on the days leading up to it I was concerned that the weather might be less than ideal. However, as I drove down the scenic Route 2 towards Pomykala Farm in Grand Isle, my worries quickly subsided as I knew I was in for a wonderful, sunshine-filled morning. Upon arriving at the farm, I was happily greeted by Hannah Baxter, the Healthy Roots Gleaning Specialist. She informed me on where to park and gave me a brief overview of herself and what we were to be doing that day as we waited for the other volunteers to arrive. Once they did, we introduced ourselves to each other and headed out to the fields.

Hannah had brought all the materials that we were going to need. She gave each one of us some light work gloves, a harvesting knife, and a cardboard box. She instructed us on the proper way to glean (how to cut, what to look for, etc.) and was clearly very knowledgeable as well as professional. Being so early in the season, we were only able to glean a few things: lettuce, spring greens, and even some sage (which smelled delightful). Nonetheless, we had our work cut out for us as we filled up numerous boxes and buckets, making a couple hours feel like 30 minutes. But I didn’t mind, and the others didn’t seem to either as we chatted, laughed, and soaked in the sun.

Once we had finished, and all of the boxes and bags had been weighed and tagged, it was time to distribute our haul to the organizations that Healthy Roots serves. This, in my opinion was one of the highlights of my experience. I, personally, dropped off a box of lettuce and a bag of sage to Martha’s Kitchen: a community soup kitchen in St. Albans. Everyone there was so grateful for Pomykala Farm’s commitment to supporting their Northwest Vermont Community.  They were thankful that a gleaning program like Healthy Roots exists, making healthy food accessible for more people. I was greeted with all sorts of smiles, thanks and blessings. Just to know how much of a difference a few hours of volunteering was making in some people’s lives was worth every minute spent at Pomykala Farm.

I would truly recommend volunteering with Healthy Roots to just about anyone. The staff is exceptional, the company is friendly, and the experience is priceless. First-timers (like myself) need not worry as experience is not necessary and everything is straightforward and easy to understand. Furthermore, all that is required is that you dress appropriately and bring a positive attitude! I will definitely be gleaning again soon and I hope you’ll join me.