Helen Palmer (above) holds kale she picked at Weir River Farm in Hingham — a tiny portion of the 157,875 pounds of fresh food gleaned this year from farms in Eastern Massachusetts by volunteers for Boston Area Gleaners. Working closely with local farmers, the nonprofit provides volunteer labor to harvest crops that would otherwise be plowed under, and distributes the food to local pantries and meal programs.
Palmer says she doesn’t want to spend her whole life sitting at a desk, and there’s no downside to being a volunteer gleaner, apart from a little aching here and there. “I’m doing something that’s actually fun, playing at being a farmer. It’s good to get out and work in the fields of these amazing farmers, and the food goes to people who really need it.”