On the Ground Update-Gleaning Butternut Squash

Gleaning is a term originating from biblical times used to describe the act of redistributing the surplus of a harvest. In doing this, volunteers collect leftover crops from farmers fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it may not be economically profitable to harvest. 

Two weeks ago, the UMass Permaculture Initiative staff and several student volunteers gleaned over 1,800 lbs. of butternut squash from Plainville Farms located in Hadley, Massachusetts over the course of two days. All of the gleaned produce was donated to Amherst Survival Center, the Student Farmers Market, Pledge, and UMass Fresh. 

Attendees of the Student Farms Market standing by a crate of donated squash 

Pledge, a retail dining location within Blue Wall, focuses on highlighting a unique handcrafted and healthy menu featuring gleaned ingredients, under-loved produce, lean sustainable proteins, vegetable-forward main courses from local partners and farmers when possible. 
The gleaned butternut squash were also included in the UMass Fresh boxes for an Autumn Stew recipe.  UMass Fresh is a new program that aims to support our local economy while addressing the issue of food insecurity in our community. Each UMass Fresh box includes organic local produce, perfectly proportioned ingredients, and a step by step recipe to recreate the meal! Each box will feed 4-6 people and it adopts a “pay what you will” model.    

With the help of student volunteers, staff and Plainville Farm, we are happy to have found a use for all the butternut squash making our first large-scale gleaning project a success!