For the past 6 years, we (and our actions) have been called sweet, crazy, overly altruistic, emotional, neurotic, and...cute.
Trust me when I say we are in fact all of those things. Some of these descriptive words really do fit us. In some ways, these tendencies have played their role in creating where this mission has gotten to.
Cute, though. Well, that is one that creates an emotional sensation of a cheese grater going down my spine. Our collective spines.
Why? Puppies are cute. Babies are cute. Being called cute can’t be such a bad thing if it’s the category puppies and babies are in! Right?
It’s because there have been instances where our work has been referred to as cute.
“What does your nonprofit do?
“We harvest unused fruit trees and partner with farms to assist in getting the abundance of food back into the community.”
“Oh! That’s cute!”
I’m not kidding. This is a conversation that has occurred.
Let me now tell you exactly why our work is not cute.
In our very first season, it was probably our 5th harvest. Back when it was just Trista, Erin, and their tangle of children. We got to know the homeowners really well because it took many trips to get all the apples. It was also when we still used ladders and laundry baskets. I’ll admit the memory is in fact very sweet, as I remember the sounds of our then much smaller children laughing and playing carefree in the cooler September days.
I was up on the ladder, happily plucking big, plump apples from a limb. My hand reaching under the leaves, and along the branches searching for more. I pushed aside a smaller cluster of leaves and saw my fingers almost touching...a thing. I look closer. I had nearly grabbed an active wasps nest. I inhaled deeply through my nose and pulled back my hand. I climbed down from my position and we put the ladder away, forever.
Just last year we got called out for potatoes. There was an earlier freeze and getting the food out of the field was imperative. The more food we rescue, the more people we serve. It’s that simple. Every potato counts. A crew of 4 adults and 1 teenager worked through the evening, as the sun dipped so did the warmth of the day. We kept working. By the time darkness had descended onto the fields, and the chill was biting at us. We kept working.
Don’t get me wrong. It was maybe one of the most fun harvests I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. Those potatoes went onto feed so many, many people. Reaching from the greater of Albuquerque through the East Mountains. We all required long showers to remove the amount of dirt that had covered us all.
That same day, I had been in an orchard with a group of volunteers where we had shoveled approximately 2,000 pounds of compost apples into a truck. Harvested a few hundred pounds of apples for donating. The compost apples were taken to a farm and again shoveled out. It was easily a 14 hour day, filled with picking things up and putting things down. We did really good work that day.
I have so many wonderfully vibrant memories from the trees and the fields. We absolutely love what we do. We believe that each apple, grape, potato, and peach we give away makes the world a little better.
Gleaning is hard work.
Gleaning is rewarding work.
Gleaning is important work.
We do not ask for accolades, nor are we the only ones doing good, hard work.
We just ask for the part we play to not be minimized with the word “cute”.
We feel so strongly about this - we created a sticker to go with it. Head over to our store to find this + remind everyone, it's not just cute.