WCHHS staff starts holidays unselfishly with local gleaning
With an afternoon of gleaning, a five-person team of staff members from the Waldron College of Health and Human Services and family started their 2015-16 holiday seasons.
Sweetsie Gilmore, Tabitha Greear ’95 MS ’05, Sherry Wade and Teresa Whitt along with Lucinda Gilmore, daughter of Sweetsie, picked up more than 100 pounds of turnips, bagged them and loaded them for shipment to area food banks in four hours on the eve of Thanksgiving. Gleaning is gathering leftover produce after a harvest.
“It was a fun way to help others and a chance for us to be together for a good cause and in a lovely place,” said Whitt, longtime administrative assistant for the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. Gilmore is administrative assistant for the Department of Occupational Therapy and Wade is administrative assistant for the School of Nursing.
On the blustery day, the team worked a field at Windy Hills Farm, a 450-acre working farm in Riner.
“We made a small commitment of time and effort to help folks who rely on food banks to eat better and more healthy,” Whitt said. “I was glad to start the holiday season off by contributing to the common good.”
WCHHS Assistant Advising Coordinator Tabitha Greear and husband Darin Greear ’94 own Windy Hills and they work with the Society of Saint Andrew (SoSA) to coordinate such gleaning activities. The Greears estimate that more than 80,000 pounds of turnips are gleaned from the five-acre field annually. It all started seven years ago when Darin Greear decided to replant an alfalfa field on his farm. He fertilized it and then the rain came and the turnips outgrew the alfalfa.
The Greears estimate that they plant five to six acres for the sole purpose of growing food and allowing SoSA volunteers to come in and help feed others. In addition to turnips, the Greears also grow sweet corn for donation as well to SoSA.
The harvest typically starts in October and, weather permitting, can run through December. When the harvest is ready, groups from across the New River Valley such as the WCHHS staff help collect the vegetables and share the bounty.