Gleaning is nothing new to Rebecca Page. She’s been out in the fields of North Carolina, working as our Triangle Area Gleaning Coordinator since April 2011. But she had unexpected notoriety last December when one of her gleanings was covered by the CBS Evening News.
That day, Rebecca was working with dozens of volunteers in a potato field owned by former NFL center Jason Brown. The St.Louis Rams player quit football in 2012, in the midst of a high-paying contract, so he could move back to North Carolina, start a farm, and contribute food to feed the hungry.
He got his First Fruits Farm up-and-running in 2013, and it became productive in 2014. That’s when he contacted the Society of St. Andrew, the Interfaith Food Shuttle, and the Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina. Rebecca responded with a total of 455 SoSA volunteers, gleaning the fields of First Fruits Farm on 7 days in October and November. They gathered up about 119,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and cucumbers, all quickly distributed to food banks in more than 10 counties in Eastern North Carolina. Brown hopes to contribute 200,000 pounds this year.
The story of the former NFL lineman feeding the hungry was a good one, and was covered by TV, radio, newspaper, and Internet. For Rebecca, the gleaning story was not new, but having a dedicated new farmer is very good news. We are grateful Jason Brown has joined the team of generous farmers on the front line of contributing so much help for so many.