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

Do you have extra kale from your backyard garden or community garden plot? Can’t handle making yet another loaf of zucchini bread? The 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. However, this program is not just for commercial growers. Home gardeners with extra produce can also contribute to the Initiative.  Email Emily ( and they will collect and redistribute your excess veggies, or connect you directly with a food pantry in your area.

“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!” 

The Downeast Gleaning Initiative supports access to nutritious, locally grown produce, reduces food waste, fosters deeper connections between producers and consumers, and strengthens our local food system. Dynamic relationships and resilient communities are key to ensuring food access, economic self-sufficiency, and long-term sustainability.

In 2021, the 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

Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that engages in a broad range of initiatives to build healthier communities and make it easier for people to lead healthy lives across Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. Learn more at