Semester of Graduation
First Major Professor
Betty L. Wells
Master of Science (MS)
Gleaning Training: Project Overview
Growing Together Iowa
Growing Together Iowa is a collaborative project between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Master Gardener and community volunteers, and donation sites like food pantries and community centers (Master Gardener Program, 2019). With funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), Growing Together provides mini-grants to counties across Iowa where Master Gardeners and collaborators build and maintain donation gardens or glean produce for donation. One in eight Iowans experiences food insecurity at some point during the year (Feeding America, 2018). Master Gardeners are helping address food insecurity in their communities through the donation of high-quality fresh produce to local donation sites. This past growing season (2018), the Growing Together project received feedback from Master Gardeners and farmers that high quality, local produce might be made available to Iowans with low-incomes through gleaning. The video training emerged as a way to prepare volunteers to build a strong foundation for a gleaning initiative in their counties.
Gleaning Training Video
The gleaning training video offers Master Gardeners and community volunteers an opportunity to learn about how they might get involved in or start a gleaning initiative in their area. It includes background information on gleaning, tips to connect with community partners and plan an initiative, information on harvesting and post-harvest handling, and information related to transportation and distribution of the produce once it has been gleaned. This training cannot replace on-farm experiences. Rather, it exposes aspiring gleaners to considerations they might not have otherwise made before starting to glean. The training is broken up into a “playlist” that allows the viewer to select the pieces most relevant to his or her project. It also includes supplemental worksheets and resources, and opportunities to pause the video and brainstorm as a group. The training also features interviews with folks who are engaged in food systems work across Iowa, exposing aspiring gleaners to different perspectives and models for success.
I conducted interviews with farmers, donation site personnel, and folks who are involved in gleaning or donation gardening initiatives for inclusion in the training video. Most of the interviews were recorded on video, but some interviews were over the phone to accommodate folks who were out of state or otherwise unable to meet in person (see Appendix A for a full list of interviewees). The following goals helped guide the direction of the interviews:
- To learn from folks who are already engaged in food systems work what tools are needed to create a solid foundation for a gleaning initiative.
- To generate footage of folks who are engaged in gleaning and food rescue to include in the training to help illustrate points made in the training, and to offer multiple perspectives.
- To expose audience members to different models for success.
I brought questions with me to the interviews that kept the above goals in mind (see Appendix B for the full list of questions). However, the questions were open-ended enough to allow the interviews to go in a different direction, opening up space for discussion.
Upon completing the interviews, I watched all of them and took detailed notes with timestamps. This review served the dual purpose of creating a catalogue of what was said when to streamline editing the videos, as well as to note common themes. Overall, the interviewees discussed many different subjects related to gleaning and agriculture, including food safety considerations, how to find donation sites and donors, best practices while gleaning, and more.
McAndrews, Carly, "Growing Together: Iowa Master Gardeners and Community Volunteers Glean Fresh Produce for Donation" (2019). Creative Components. 219.