Pictured above, from left: Troop leader Nina Baguley, Marisa Baguley, Kayla Caputo, Sadie Forbes, LocalShare volunteer Michele St. Andre, troop leader Cheryl Forbes. Not pictured: Heather Kemper.

Gleaning peaches at Brook Hollow Farm in Columbia.

From left: Kayla Caputo, Sadie Forbes, Marisa Baguley and Heather Kemper prepare peaches for freezing so they can be used throughout the winter months.

It all began back in August 2017 when a group of Senior Girl Scouts joined the Foodshed Alliance’s LocalShare program to help glean* peaches at Brook Hollow Farm in Columbia.

“It was a real eye-opener to see so much great, healthy food go to waste,” said Kayla Caputo, a Knowlton resident. “We were happy to save it so people who need it could eat it.”

Kayla and three friends, Sadie Forbes, Marisa Baguley and Heather Kemper, all of Frelinghuysen, were entering the 9th grade at North Warren Regional High School at the time. They were in the Girl Scouts since kindergarten.

Now members of Senior Girl Scout Troop #70023, the four used the gleaning experience to launch a “Journey,” a Girl Scout experience that encourages girls to make a difference in the world—and have fun doing it. The girls had to:

  • Identify a problem they wanted to do something about;
  • Come up with a creative solution that would make a difference;
  • Create a team plan to make that solution a reality;
  • Put their plan into action.

“The peach gleaning really made the girls think about and become aware of food waste,” said troop co-leader Cheryl Forbes. “They started planning a Journey to address the problem.” She and co-leader Nina Baguley helped the girls formulate a plan that went well beyond gleaning.

One thing the girls realized very quickly is that gleaning fresh produce is only the beginning. For example, freshly picked local peaches are at their peak for a very short time. Given the abundance of peaches that season, the girls formulated a plan and spent a whole afternoon peeling, slicing, and freezing peaches so they can be donated to food pantries for distribution throughout the winter months. They also processed local apples into apple sauce.

But their Journey didn’t stop there. “We wanted to help people know how to use and store the produce they were getting from gleanings,” explained Sadie. “Some of the vegetables are things people don’t use every day so we wanted to help them make the most of them.”

The girls began to work on collecting recipes and tips for using local produce. They focused on simple recipes with only a few easy-to-get ingredients but with great taste. They then created recipe cards, in both English and Spanish, to be distributed along with freshly gleaned produce at food pantries.

Finally, the team created an attractive, portable display board to house the recipe cards and tips at the food pantry distributions. To maximize its utility, the girls designed it with Velcro pouches so the recipes could be updated seasonally. All the recipes are cataloged and organized in a master recipe binder.

This summer, Kayla, Sadie, Marisa and Heather are planning to set up simple cooking demonstrations at local area food pantries, showing people how to use their recipes.

The Foodshed Alliance is so grateful to these girls and their troop leaders for their incredibly thoughtful and tangible contributions to our LocalShare program!

*Gleaning is an ancient tradition dating back to the Old Testament of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields (after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest) to distribute to those in need.