November 24, 2009

Gettin' Dirty: The Final Glean

The forecast was ominous for Glean for the City's final Gleaning (on Saturday, November 14th). Rain had been pounding Parker Farms for days. It stopped only hours before we planned to hit the fields.

According to procedure, I emailed our volunteers (from law firms Booz Allen, Dickstein Shapiro, and Coviello and Associates), and informed them of the high likelihood that we'd be gleaning in a swamp. I expected people to want to reschedule. Instead, I received a unanimous “Bring it on!”

A swamp it was. Volunteers leaped puddles, walked down dry rows like a tightrope, and trudged through the mud in search of perfect heads of broccoli. As I wrote last time, gleaning broccoli isn't easy -- you have to really get down to the ground and slash it out.

One of our volunteers got a little too far down to the ground. Her foot sunk 2 feet into the mud, and even with Vince's help she was struggling to get up. After considerable tugging (and laughing), she eventually pulled her foot out -- but without a shoe! It seemed to get eaten by the muck. But rather than take it easy after that, she kicked off her other shoe (which just looked like a chunk of mud anyway) and proceeding to glean barefoot for over an hour.

By the end, despite the mud, we'd hauled up 35 bins bulging with broccoli. We took the time to admire our work, and then the volunteers began to depart in their respective vehicles. But nature had one last attempt to spoil our fun.

Vince and I heard the spinning wheels first. We looked over at a volunteer's sedan, which was now stuck in a newly formed river, and simultaneously said, “UH OH”. We tried to help push--to no avail.

Predictably, Rod Parker came to the rescue. Using the front end of his 4x4, he gently nudged the vehicle to solid ground. Our volunteer drove away, waiving out of the car with a loud, “Thank youuuu!” It was the perfect exclamation point on an improbably perfect day.

A special thanks to Barrett Jones for taking video of the event. Of course, also a very special thanks to Rod Parker for taking the time to spend the day with us. Rod has been an essential component of our first year at Glean for the City.

Last but not least, a HUGE thanks to everyone who voted for us (especially those of you who voted every day!) in the Tom's of Maine '50 States for Good' contest. I am pleased to report that Bread for the City won!

We'll have more thoughts here soon about what that means for the future of Glean for the City. In the meantime, thousands of thank yous from us to those of you who made it happen. This one's for you:

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