Gleaning Day — A Heart-Warming Harvest
Chris Cousins, Bayer Supply Chain Integrated Planning
As a five-year-old, my son Matthew is very curious about what I do at work and how the agriculture industry operates. Bayer’s third annual Gleaning Day offered an opportunity for me to take him in the field for a hands-on farming experience and to learn more about how Bayer and our customers are helping to feed the world.
The day started with breakfast at Bayer’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) site. Then approximately 60 Bayer employees, friends and family — including about 10 other children, ages 5–13 — loaded up on buses and headed to Williams Produce Farm in Autryville, North Carolina.
The idea behind gleaning is to hand-pick the produce that was missed during harvest or that did not meet the aesthetic standards for grocery store shelves. That food is then donated to local food banks serving those in need.
Matthew of course loved riding on the bus to the farm — and then seeing some of his favorite foods (watermelon, corn, tomatoes) growing in the fields. For me, seeing 60 enthusiastic people out in the summer heat was truly amazing. We harvested significantly more than the food bank staff had expected! This was due to the generosity of the farmer and the quick work of the Bayer volunteers.
We were thrilled to see the corn piling up, and it was rewarding to know all of it was being donated to charity. We gleaned more than 6,500 pounds of corn and 500 pounds of tomatoes. It took a second truck to help haul the corn away!
Bayer partners with the Society of St. Andrew and local food pantry staff on Gleaning Day, and this year they donated half of the harvest to Make A Difference Food Pantry in Goldsboro, N.C., and the other half to Dorcas Ministries in Cary, N.C. As a parent, it’s hard not to be touched by the fact that this donation will help to serve kids who, in the absence of free/reduced lunch during the school year, do not regularly receive enough nutrition at home.
Bayer’s annual Gleaning Day was started in 2014 by one of my fellow employees, Leo Magalhaes. Leo has watched the number of volunteers grow every year. “By taking part in gleaning, we help reduce food waste while helping others who are in need of food,” he says. “Plus, it is a good time! I take my daughter every year and she loves it.”
Matthew starts kindergarten in the fall, and this provided a great learning opportunity for him on multiple levels. Unfortunately, agriculture often faces some negative perceptions, and it was rewarding to show Matthew how great farms can be. He even got a lesson in Bayer’s exciting ag technologies from some of the Bayer scientists on the trip!
Not So Fun Facts:
· 42 million Americans struggle with hunger.
· In the United States, we throw away about 263 million pounds of food every single day.
· Society of St. Andrew — Gleaning America’s Fields — Feeding America’s Hungry
· Society of St. Andrew Food Waste Quiz: Take this eye-opening quiz to learn more about why perfectly good food goes to waste.