5 Things I Learned from my First Gleaners Experience
by Kristin McGovern
When I received last week’s Gleaning Opportunities email (if you haven’t already signed up – you can do so by clicking here), I saw that it was going to be a Saturday gleaning (perfect!) for 3 hours in the morning. They only needed 6 people for this opportunity so I signed up right away (the signup filled quickly – but you can always email to see if they can take more volunteers).
On Saturday, I went to Brookwood Farm, a DCR property in Canton at the base of the Blue Hills reservation. This is an organic farm that offers a CSA to local folks. They contacted Gleaners because they had 3 crops to be gleaned – spinach, lettuce and broccoli leaves.
My time at the farm was amazing, and I wanted to share with you five things that I learned:
- Gleaning is hard but rewarding work. They tell you this when you sign up, but I do want to reiterate the hard work part. It is a lot of bending and/or kneeling. If you have back issues or knee challenges, talk to/email the coordinator and see if there are any accommodations that they recommend. But there is an incredible feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment when you are working – and when you are done!
- Be prepared to get REALLY dirty. Again, no duh, right? But really – at least for our session we didn’t wear gloves and we were kneeling in soft, wet (beautiful!) soil. So what does “be prepared” mean?
- Wear junky pants (long pants are required – no shorts) that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Wear sneakers and socks that you don’t care about. Or waterproof closed-toed shoes that are comfortable.
- Bring a towel to put on your car seat for when you drive home (whoops – thought of that as I was getting into my car to leave…)
- It will be HOT. “Boy, Captain Obvious, you are filled with blatantly crystal clear ‘advice’, aren’t you?” I know, but it bears repeating. As we enter the summer months, you will be in the sun for 3 hours – no shade. They DO have sunblock and bug spray (yay!) but bring a hat and sunglasses. And maybe skip the long-sleeved shirt (I was following what I thought were the rules – but turns out you CAN wear short sleeved shirts…). They have water but bring your own reusable bottle as well.
- Don’t be afraid to go alone. Many of these opportunities early in the season will be only for 6-8 people. But I can attest to the fact that you will meet some really great people. In my group, we had: a man from Australia who is at MGH for his residency, lives in Beacon Hill and took the Red Line AND rode his bike to get to Canton; a recent retiree who has been gleaning for 5 years and is so enthusiastic that she joined the Gleaner’s board; a woman from Needham (whom I didn’t know!) who found out about Gleaners by Googling something like “volunteer opportunities for farm waste”; and a newlywed young man who drives a delivery truck for Peapod and is passionate about farming. The guy on the far right is from Gleaners. It was a fascinating crew and you really get to know people while whacking away at lettuce heads 😊.
- You will learn a lot! Here are just a few random things I learned:
- The farms need to be gleaned for various reasons but they are generally something like this: They must over-plant due to the uncertainties of farming; once they have determined their own needs they generally don’t have the time or labor to gather up the rest; if Gleaners didn’t come in, the crop would generally be plowed under. Sad but true!
- There are TONS of delicious greens and things that I had never thought of eating. One was broccoli leaves. They gave me a few to try – they were delicious! Another was carrot tops – who knew they make a great pesto?
- The reasons people volunteer vary greatly, but the one common theme is that everyone hates to see such beautiful food go to waste given hunger and poverty issues.
- The produce that is gleaned is gorgeous – the kind of thing you’d find at the farmer’s market. For example, the petite heads of lettuce – a variety of types – were so incredibly perfect! I found it reassuring that the produce donated wasn’t questionable.
- Volunteering for Gleaners is a fun, informative and fulfilling way to spend a few hours!
Interested in checking it out? Sign up to be a Gleaner by clicking here!
“Our Increased Compassion, Not Our Hardened Hearts”
A Joint Letter from Massachusetts Heads of Church on the Executive Action Suspending Refugee Resettlement
We speak together, as Church leaders in Massachusetts, on the injurious Executive Action restricting refugees, issued on Friday January 27, 2017 entitled, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”
Our Christian tradition is clear. Deuteronomy 10:19 commands, “You shall also love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” The Holy Family was forced to flee the violence of their homeland (Matthew 2). Our Savior was a migrant. We hear Jesus Christ declare in Matthew 25 that His followers will be judged if we do not welcome the stranger. We stand under that judgment today.
We believe in the aspirations of our nation, a place where all people long to live in safety. We remember with horror our nation’s decision in 1939 to refuse the refugees on the MS St. Louis, a ship of German Jews, condemning many to death. Refugees invite our increased compassion, not our hardened hearts.
We echo the words of Bishop Joe Vasquez of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion. This includes Christians, as well as Yazidis and Shia Muslims from Syria, Rohingyas from Burma, and other religious minorities. However, we need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country.”
We grieve this decision to limit refugees, as it will cause further suffering, not just to our fellow Christians escaping persecution, but all refugees fleeing violence.
As Christians we try to live our lives in accordance with Jesus’ Great Commandment – to love our neighbors as ourselves. We want safe homes, the freedom to worship, stable governments, and opportunities to thrive. Refugees desire the same. Our nation is founded on this welcome. We must make sure that we do not allow fear to overwhelm us, crowd out our compassion, or fundamentally change our character.
Therefore, we pledge our voices and our churches’ active support to resettle refugees in Massachusetts.
We call on elected leaders, including President Trump, to reconsider the Executive Action to limit refugee resettlement.
We have and will continue to welcome and support refugees. Our churches are in every single city and town of Massachusetts.
And, we ask our churches to reach out in love and Christian hospitality to the refugees living near them. We encourage our churches to show compassion and support to those who have fled hardship and violence.
- The Rev. Fr. Arakel Aljalian, Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
- The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
- Mr. Anthony Barsamian, President, Massachusetts Council of Churches
- Reverend Howard K. Burgoyne, Superintendent, East Coast Conference, Evangelical Covenant Church
- Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River
- Reverend Dr. Harold M. Delhagen, Synod Leader/Executive for The Synod of the Northeast, Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, Bishop, United Methodist Church, New England Conference
- Reverend Laura Everett, Executive Director, Massachusetts Council of Churches
- The Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
- The Rt. Rev. Alan Gates, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
- The Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
- Bishop Jim Hazelwood, New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Reverend Jocelyn Hart Lovelace, Presiding Elder, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Boston-Hartford District
- His Grace Bishop John, Diocese of Worcester and New England, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
- Reverend Mary Day Miller, Executive Minister, The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts
- Noah Merrill, Secretary & Frederick Weiss, Presiding Clerk, New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
- Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts
A Touch of Humanity Behind the “Out in the Cold” Art Exhibit
The Betty Meyer Gallery
64 Hancock Street, Auburndale, MA 02466
Hours: Daily, 9 am to 3 pm
by Evan RJ (17)
A year ago, homeless individuals in the Waltham area were given disposable cameras and asked to photograph, “A day in your life,” and write a caption to go along with it. This project, which was initiated by the former director of the Community Day Center of Waltham, Marilyn Lee-Tom, gained a lot of publicity, with articles appearing in the times and displayed across the town of Waltham. To learn more, I interviewed Marilyn’s successor, Carolyn Montalto, the current executive director of the Community Day Center.
The Community Day Center services the chronically homeless, those individuals who do not expect to ever find a permanent place to call their own. 75% of the people Montalto saw when she started in July are still at the center. One man has been coming for 20 years. Some people do turn around, finding homes and new jobs, but the percentage is very low. Day Center guests range in age from 45-60 years old, and many come to the center angry and embittered by the unfair life they felt they’ve been dealt. Many feel victimized by uncontrollable circumstance[s].
The Center and its staff deal with unpacking the “layers of pain” these individuals bring with them every day. Many of them are still holding on to grief experienced much earlier in life. The photography and stories the Waltham individuals have shared show offer an important touch of humanity. You can see that in these pictures. There is a “beating heart” behind each photograph. Montalto calls out to her community, as well as ours not to be afraid. She beckoned me with these words: “Come! Listen to the stories they will tell you. There is a man here named Bicycle Bob. He’s 74, he’ll tell you the best stories. Now, I ask you, why are these people ostracized?”
One image from “Out in the Cold” which stuck-with Montalto was a photo of a man sleeping on the floor of an ATM booth. To her, this summed up the hopelessness that these people feel. According to Montalto, the man featured in the image has since died from drug overdose. There are nearly 250 victims of homelessness in Waltham. To highlight the extent of this divide, Montalto points out the irony of Moody Street, which is centrally located in Waltham boasting fifty-two restaurants, where people sleep on sidewalks eat only at soup kitchens like the Day Center.
When she first came to this job, Montalto tried to make the center a place where people could come to be happy. She wanted to offer more than just the food which individuals received at soup kitchens. One such endeavor was “12 Days of Christmas;” each day there would be a fun craft such as decorating Christmas cookies. Nobody showed up. Montalto learned that a local pastor was holding Blue Christmas services at the same time, services which admit to the sadness many people fill during holidays. Day Center guests were in full attendance there. Montalto realized that what these struggling individuals craved was not necessarily happiness, but hope.
In pursuit of this goal, Montalto actually took the “Out in the Cold” installation down. She wanted to create a safe, comfortable space, and felt that continuing to look at the pictures only deepened despair. When Pastor Doug asked to display the show at the Betty Meyer Gallery, Montalto had to remove the show from boxes, and she is glad she did. It is important to see how victims of homelessness see the world. We need not shield ourselves so entirely from the problem that we forget it’s there. Montalto admits, “I’m still learning… I don’t know if we can find the sparks of happiness.” Her work at the Community Day Center of Waltham is striving towards that goal.
The Community Day Center of Waltham relies heavily on donations to sustain their mission:
The Community Day Center of Waltham supports homeless individuals and those in need to shape and meet their life goals. We accept and respect people where they are, and seek to help them access the necessary tools and services to move toward stability.
They receive small grants from the city, but mostly call on churches and kind neighbors for help. Montalto herself is very invested in the work the Center is doing, even writing a Christmas card this year, seeking support. Visit the CDC website to learn how best to support the Community Day Center of Waltham, http://communitydaycenter.org/support.html.
The Betty Meyer Gallery at the United Parish of Auburndale displays the exhibit “Out in the Cold” throughout the month of January, seven days a week, from 9am to 3pm. The mission of the Gallery includes leveraging local artists, offering opportunities for reflection and response.
For more information about The Community Day Center of Waltham,visit www.communitydaycenter.org
16 Felton St., Waltham, MA 02453 (781) 392-6311
Hours: M-F 1:30 to 4:30 and 7:30am to 9am (winter only)
A LOCAL BENEFIT for MALAWI in a TIME of EXTREME DROUGHT
Wednesday, January 18th at 7pm
The United Parish of Auburndale
64 Hancock Street, Newton, MA
To power his family’s home, 14-year-old William Kamkwamba built an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap — starting him on a journey detailed in the book and film “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” The documentary “William and the Windmill” won the 2013 Documentary Feature Grand Jury Award at The SouthbySouthWest Arts Festival in Austin Texas. Kamkwamba has appeared twice on TED Talks.
William Kamkwambe has been invited to Newton on January 18th to raise awareness of life in Africa in the midst of extreme drought and to raise funds for K2 TASO, an NGO working to meet the needs of malnourished people of Malawi. A $50 donation at the door purchases a signed copy of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” and supports relief efforts in Malawi.
SUPPORTIVE POSTCARDS TO ISLAMIC CENTER IN BOSTON, WAYLAND
“We stand with you in love!”
“We continue to be horrified by the hateful rhetoric directed against Muslims. We want to let you know that we are grateful for your presence in our community and for the contributions you bring to culture and society.”
“Dear friends and neighbors, from our parish to yours we send a message of Hope, Love, and prayers of Strength and tolerance…”
“Here is a quote from scripture: From one ancestor God made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and God allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and find God (Acts 17:26).”
“These days I hav eto constantly remind myself that there is more love than hate in this world, in this country…I hope my voice, with others from this church, will help you feel more peace, security and belonging. Ah-la wa sah-la. (welcome).”
The Outreach Board invites members of the UPA to express love and support for the Islamic Center in Boston, Wayland and the people who worship there with messages on postcards. Postcards will be available on Sunday, December 18th. Please leave your message of support in the baskets as you leave worship. Postcards will be mailed on Monday, December 19th.