See how Southold students glean the fields for charity

Southold High School students got their hands dirty for a good cause Wednesday by picking vegetables at Wesnofske Farm in order to donate the would-be wasted produce to charities.

The process, known as “gleaning,” is referred to in the Old Testament as having farmers leave produce on their vines along the edge of their fields for the poor.

This is the third year teachers James Stahl and Jason Wesnofske, whose family owns the Peconic farm, organized the event.

“Every year, we have been collecting over 500 pounds of produce that we donate and the kids love it,” said Mr. Stahl, a National Honor Society advisor.

After he came up with the idea of having his students glean fields as part of their community service requirement, he reached out to Mr. Wesnofske to see if his family would be willing to donate to the cause.

Twenty-seven teenagers participated Wednesday and Mr. Wesnofske said the amount of students volunteering for the event has grown over the years.

“I’m very grateful for the turnout,” he said. “We are blessed to have this many kids actually interested and to give back this holiday season.”

Students spent over an hour in the field — despite the chilly weather — filling boxes with produce.

After students picked Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, they dropped off the produce to Maureen’s Haven in Riverhead, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Aquebogue and St. Agnes Church in Greenport.

“I like it because it’s a great opportunity to go out with all of your classmates and it’s fun,” said Jake McCarthy, a senior and secretary of the honor society.

Senior Daisy Rymer said she enjoyed the learning experience.

“There’s always stuff you can do to help people, even in the dead of winter,” she said. “You can always find more crops and more ways to help the needy.”

John MacKay, program director at Maureen’s Haven, said his organization is always appreciative of donations, especially local produce.

“Church volunteers pay out of pocket to feed the homeless people that we serve in this area,” he said. “It really helps when students bring donations of fresh produce from the area.”

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The Southold high school students pose for a photo with the produce they collected.
Southold High School students with the vegetables they collected Wednesday. (Credit: Krysten Massa)