Over the years, Brady’s Farm Market has always been generous in giving back to the community. That tradition will continue Thursday, Aug. 16 when the Society of St. Andrew visits Bradys’ Farm for a gleaning event.
The Society of St. Andrew bills itself as America’s Premier Food Rescue and Distribution Ministry, having distributed more than 2 billion servings of food since 1983. Thursday’s gleaning at Brady’s Farm is part of a larger statewide initiative.
“When the farmers and growers have completed their harvest, the Society of St. Andrew will come in and glean what is in the field and then distribute it to food banks. The Governor of Virginia and First Lady and part of their staff are involved in this initiative in gaining awareness for Society of St. Andrew,” said Karen Dennis, the Southwest Virginia coordinator of the national organization. “It is great for the farmer, it’s great for the food banks and it’s great for the people who get the food. The farmers also receive tax credit, so it is a win-win.”
Dennis said Society for St. Andrew typically has gleaning events from July to November. She encourages anyone that wants to volunteer to help out Thursday morning at Brady’s Farm.
“Anybody from age two to 92 can participate. We would love to get the community involved because we try to get everything we glean to go back into the community involved,” Dennis said. “I have been involved with this for 12 years and Donna Peery and Debbie Brady Goad of Brady’s Farm have been involved for at least that long, if not longer. Whenever they have an abundance of produce, they call us and we distribute it back locally or take it to other locations, but they are very generous in giving back to their community. They always give us the opportunity to glean and share the produce.”
Gleanings depend on the grower, Dennis said. Sometimes, gleaners are called in when growers can’t get to all their produce. Instead of letting it go bad, they will call groups like Society of St. Andrew. Other growers will plant a field of corn or other crop specifically for groups such as Society of St. Andrew to glean.
Peery said Brady’s Produce has dealt with Society of St. Andrew for many years because it enjoys being able to give back to the community.
“The community has done a lot for us and we wouldn’t be where we are without the support of the local community. And outside the area, we have gotten good support from everyone, so it’s a great thing for us to do,” Peery said. “We throw away so much produce that is not marketable. I couldn’t even begin to tell how many pounds of unmarketable produce, not unedible, just unmarketable produce that we work with to get out to places where it is needed.”
Peery said Brady’s often has to go ahead and pick produce it knows is unlikely to sell so that the vines can keep producing. She said Brady’s would then call local organizations such as Beans and Rice of Radford or Society for St. Andrew, who will in turn help distribute the produce. Other local farmers like Danny Cassell have gotten on board with Society of S. Andrew recently.
“There is a state tax credit involved so there is some monetary incentive to give. But even without that we would probably still give it because we have nothing else to do with it,” Peery said. “We also donate to the Open Table program with the local churches. If they want to do slaw or sliced tomatoes one week, we try to work with them and let them tell us what they want based on their menu for the week. We have done that for a couple of years. It’s a good program. It’s always good to give.”
Brady’s Farm Market is currently open seven days a week in the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market in Hillsville.