August 17, 2010

Gleaners Rescue Corn

This past Saturday, Parker Farms and Bread for the City hosted yet another Glean for the City adventure. Our mission this time around was especially critical - rescuing yellow corn.

"I've never seen it this bad," said Rod Parker, shaking his head. "1% infestation is bad. 5% and you might break even. We're at 8% right now." Rod is referring to a pest known as corn earworm. (They're pretty gross.) This season, the infestation is so bad that Rod has been forced to abandon over 80 acres of corn. Eighty. Acres. Rod says it's just not cost effective to fight them anymore.

That's where our gleaning heroes came in. We made the 90 minute trek down to Parker Farms in Colonial Beach, VA to rescue the corn and bring it back to our clients at Bread for the City-- the worm free corn, that is. While a high percentage of corn is infested with the corn earworm, an even higher percentage of corn is perfectly edible. (And really delicious! Ever eat corn right off the stalk? Can't get much fresher than that...) After a couple hours' work, our 12 volunteers gleaned over 2,000 pounds of fresh, free, delicious yellow corn. Check out the August 14 photo gallery on our Flickr page.

Without our volunteers and Glean for the City, 80 acres of corn would become 80 acres of compost. (Really expensive compost.) Although devastated with the loss of so much corn, Rod says that the blow is softened by knowing that Bread for the City can make use of what is left of his corn crop.

While we won't be able to rescue all of the corn, we can do our part to salvage what we can; 2,000 pounds at a time. And you can help! Contact Vince Hill at to sign up for a gleaning trip. With the harvest season about to kick into high gear, there are plenty of gleaning trips left. Don't miss out!

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