Volunteer Spotlight: Gleaning for a Good Cause

August 21st, 2018

On August 20th, 2018 we invited a group of volunteers to our site at Ovid Hazen Wells Park to glean sweet potato greens. This project was a partnership between Community Food Rescue, University of Maryland Extension, School of Supplementary Nutrition Education, the Montgomery Council Master Gardeners and The Montgomery County Food Council. We welcomed the opportunity to have this group work with Growers to harvest a portion of this plant that has historically been underutilized.

Sweet potato greens have a surprising history in the Mid-Atlantic region of North America. Many Americans enjoy sweet potatoes during the Holidays, as harvesting is at its peak from October to early December. While most associate eating sweet potatoes with the tuberous root portion of the plant, West African & Asian communities have incorporated the greens into their culinary practices for ages.

Like beet greens, the greens of sweet potatoes can be sautéed and prepared as a main or side dish.

The leafy treats are packed with nutrients; in fact, they tend to hold three-times more vitamin B6, five-times more vitamin C, and close to ten-time more riboflavin than the root of the sweet potato.

Despite the apparent value of this part of the sweet potato, farmers often waste this part of the plant because of a lack of demand from commercial entities. Red Wiggler was thrilled to welcome our partner organizations to assist in delivering this super green to Shepard’s Table in Silver Spring, Maryland; a nonprofit that has provided food to low-income families in Montgomery County for over 30 years.

Our day started with introductions between the staff, Growers, and Volunteers. The groups were given assignments and guidance by our Farm Co-Manager, Melissa McLearen and Grower, Jerry Dillon.
The day culminated in a luncheon with our staff, where the groups discussed food waste and food insecurity in Montgomery County, and Executive Director, Woody Woodroof spoke about how partnerships like these allow Red Wiggler to give back while pursuing its long-term sustainability goals.

Want to get involved, or know of a group interested in organic farming, sustainability, food insecurity or our mission of inclusivity?
Go to our volunteer page to find out how you can #WorkLearnGrow with us this season.