Volunteers glean produce for community
Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016
The generosity of a local farmer in the Joyner area has enabled many Southampton County residents to enjoy sweet corn. That happened after Jean Stephenson, director of the Southampton County Department of Social Services, got a call last week that she described as “very spur of the moment” offering the produce.
Such calls don’t come regularly — in fact the last time was over 10 years ago — so she quickly sought out volunteers willing to harvest the few rows set aside. Stephenson added later that people in the community seem to know they can contact the department for such things, or can be put in touch with someone who can help.
In spite of temperatures in the 90s, the 15 people she got picked a little over 2,000 ears of sweet corn just in one day. Over the four days, 10,300 ears were picked. The volunteers distributed the produce to a nearby mobile home park, among other places. As if gleaning the corn wasn’t enough, the volunteers headed to the Eastern Shore on Friday to pick potatoes.
“This experience was truly a blessing to the recipients, and also a day that the volunteers will never forget,” Stephenson said.
She said that people willing to participate don’t have to a large amount of food in order to help others. One venue is the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia’s program called “Plant a Row for the Hungry.”
A farmer or home gardener is asked to plant or set aside an extra row of produce to share for people who are unable to grow food on their own.
“It’s amazing to see the community spirit that can be brought about by just one small act of kindness,” she said. “Generosity from the farmer of this bounty, plus the devotion of motivated volunteers, is yet one more reason Southampton County is a wonderful place to call home.”