Healthy Acadia's Hancock County Food Programs Manager Rachel Emus harvests surplus greens for distribution to local food security organizations. PHOTO COURTESY OF EMILY SHANAHAN

Donate garden surplus to gleaning initiative

ELLSWORTH — If you can’t handle making yet another loaf of zucchini bread, Downeast Gleaning Initiative makes it easy to share your garden surplus. 

As the growing season progresses, Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Gleaning Initiative continues to partner with farmers across the region to harvest and distribute excess produce to food pantries and free meal sites.  

The initiative supports access to nutritious, locally grown produce, reduces food waste, fosters deeper connections between producers and consumers and strengthens the local food system. The program is not just for commercial growers. Home gardeners with extra produce can also contribute to the initiative.  

“For me, it is so easy to donate to the Gleaning Initiative,” said Blue Hill gardener Jeff Milliken, who has contributed garden produce to the program for over six years. “When my produce is ready to harvest, I can pick it and deliver it at any time, day or night, to one of their accessible refrigerated drop-off points. There it can wait happily for local food assistance programs to pick it up and distribute to people who will benefit from our locally grown vegetables. I just love it!”  

In 2021, Downeast Gleaning Initiative worked with 50 farms and gardens and over 200 volunteers to glean and distribute 40,000 pounds of produce to food security programs across Hancock and Washington counties. Learn more at