Every summer the Beaverton Farmers Market hosts Tualatin Valley Gleaners (TVG), raising funds for the hungry in need, asking marketgoers to please buy a bunch of vegetables and fruit, or meats and canned products to donate to this excellent charity that provides food and other household products and services to residents of Washington County who are living on the poverty line.
Tualatin Valley Gleaners will have a large booth on the market premises during market hours, 8am to 1:30pm, and will accept cash, a check, fresh food products, canned products from home, and ( much needed ) toiletries. TVG gleans leftover fresh food from Beaverton Farmers Market vendors every week during the market season. Last season (year) that resulted in more than 12,000 lbs. of food for distribution to needy families.
Tualatin Valley Gleaners serves an average of 175-200 families per week, and diversity is one of its strong points. They serve native Oregonians, to individuals that have recently gained entry to the USA from all over the world. Founder of Tualatin Valley Gleaners (TVG), Heather Thompson says, “In fact, last week I had the pleasure of meeting a Somalian refugee who just arrived in the U.S. He was at our distribution center because he had heard that if he works for his food and does a good job, after two months we will help him with an employment recommendation.” Several of our refugee families as well as others have taken advantage of learning new work skills to aid in their work searches.
The Tualatin Valley Gleaners, is not just about food, it is about community. “We want to make a real difference in the lives we touch. In order to do that you have to look at the entire picture and the particular needs of the individual. With such a diverse group, we are able to network together to help take care of some of those needs. Last year, one of our members could not afford a plumber to come fix her kitchen sink. While a group of us were gleaning in the fields, one of our gleaners said, ‘I am a plumber, and I can help you with that.’ This is the real picture of community, helping one another,” remarks Heather.
MORE ABOUT TUALATIN VALLEY GLEANERS, BY Heather Thompson, founder
The wonderful difference in our program from the multiple food pantries in the area, is we are a food with dignity program. Each family contributes a small monthly membership fee, as well as sweat equity in the program. These projects are completed by the man power of the families the gleaners serves. We grow and produce foods on a 4,000sq.ft. piece of land, called the Giving Gardens @ Kennedy Community Gardens in Beaverton, as well as support and promote home/container gardening for any member interested. We also utilize the great resources of Washington County by 'gleaning' left over and unwanted fruit trees, orchards, and fields. Gleaning reduces the food waste entering into the landfills, by sourcing still edible, fresh nutritious foods.
On our new website we have a form for donors, if they have unwanted or left over fruit, or farmed fields, picked ups can be scheduled by a gleaning team member and immediately distributed to families in need. We also rescue foods from numerous area grocers, and are participating members of the Oregon Food Bank.
The importance of going out and actually picking the fields, orchards, and backyard trees goes beyond simple nutrition. It brings the families together, those in need without work, or barely making ends meet at part time jobs. Our families are working for a common goal of self-sufficiency, participating in their own health is vital to one’s dignity. We strive to provide education and job skills to aid in the community and personal growth.
Testimonials from those served by TVG:
Tiffany M. - I can say that the gleaners has helped us considerably. Shortly after moving to Oregon we went broke. I first got a part time minimum wage job in Washington County, then got hired at Walmart for a better wage but still part time. There was not enough income for all of our bills which led to us breaking the lease on our apartment. I slept on the floor for 10 months with my 2 year old daughter and lost 25 pounds because there was no money for food. I fed my daughter then ate her leftovers, don't forget she was only 2. That's when I started going to food pantries. At first I was embarrassed and felt no pride in taking a hand out. I have never needed assistance prior to moving here so it was not an easy adjustment. After learning about the Tualatin Valley Gleaners program, I was eager to participate. I now have a sense of pride knowing that I'm one of many who are reaping the benefits of working to help each other. Gleaning, receiving good, household products and most of all, dignity.
Katie K. -
Gleaners has helped me so much with my anxiety. I use to not be able to be in large crowded room. I also wasn't able to go out without my companion pet Dusty Rose. Gleaners has helped me with these things, I also feel better about myself now that I am helping others and I always learn something new, too. I really love going out on the field picks, and being able to bring back fresh fruit to share with my family and to my elderly neighbors who can't get out very much. So I give Gleaners a BIG THANK YOU!!!
All of that to say, please consider donating to TVG at the Market, this Saturday, July 18th!