Mary Baldwin students glean orchard to feed needy

By Sally Voth-svoth@nvdaily.com

LEBANON CHURCH — Mary Baldwin College freshman Kawanda Temple went out on a limb Tuesday to help feed the hungry.

She was one of nearly 100 students from the college who were at Woodbine Farm Market off Va. 55 (John Marshall Highway) west of Strasburg to pick leftover apples from the branches and healthy ones from the ground as part of a gleaning service project at the small liberal arts school.

“I climbed a tree and I got three apples,” said Temple, who acknowledged it was her first tree-climbing experience.

The apples will be distributed on the streets of Washington to the needy.

“What fell to the ground when the pickers came through there, [the students are] sorting through them and picking out the best ones,” said Betty Heishman, a coordinator with the Society of St. Andrew. “We have a truck coming from Washington, D.C., today. He’s going to take the apples back to that area.”

The Society of St. Andrew salvages leftover crops to distribute to the hungry, according to its website, www.endhunger.org.

“Mary Baldwin gleans every year,” said Student Government President Kara Jenkins, daughter of Sherry Brumback Jenkins, whose family owns Woodbine Farm. “Since it was my senior year, I had the idea of gleaning on our farm. I knew I wanted to celebrate this tradition with everyone.”

Lynn Gilliland, executive director of first- and-second year experience at the Staunton college, said Apple Day started more than 60 years ago.

“It started in the early 1940s when the students used to go to the college-owned orchard to pick the apples for the dining hall to have for the winter,” she said.

The tradition died away, Gilliland said, until the college’s president, Pamela Fox, brought it back with the twist of having it be for community service. The past three years, students have picked apples at a Bedford orchard, she said.

“We were able to glean a record for us — 4,800 pounds of apples — which is just awesome,” Gilliland said. “It’s such a beautiful, beautiful place.”

Apple Day is the favorite tradition among her classmates, said senior Naka Rigaud, who is from Haiti.

“It’s really special to us because it’s our last year doing this,” she said.

The young women were picking Rome and red delicious varieties, said Randy Jenkins, Kara’s father. Normally, the apples are harvested closer to mid-October.

“But, due to the dry weather, they were falling so, we had to go ahead and pick them,” Jenkins said. “They’re doing a good job.”