Campus & Community

Group harvests cabbage to benefit local food shelters

More than 70,000 people across Colorado will be enjoying fresh produce this week thanks in part to volunteers from the University of Denver.

Seven undergraduate and graduate students, led by University Chaplain Gary Brower, spent Saturday at Petrocco Farms in Brighton, Colo., cutting and boxing cabbage in a gleaning project for COMPA Ministries.

The cabbage that was collected on Saturday will be distributed to 170 shelters and food pantries in the Denver metro area and across Colorado.

During harvest season (September and October), COMPA works with volunteers from local churches, civic agencies and community groups to harvest fresh produce donated by area farms. The organization supports the acquisition, production and distribution of healthy food to the “working poor” to help promote self-sufficiency and prevent homelessness.

The DU group joined nearly 100 other volunteers. In just two and a half hours, the volunteers had cut and packed enough cabbage to fill three flat-bed trailers and one 24-foot van.

“The farm had set aside an entire field for this project,” says Brower. “We weren’t just picking up the leftovers or stuff that was missed.”

Cabbage is one of the hardest crops to harvest, according to Kevin Finder, COMPA development manager and Project Glean organizer. “The volunteers have to bend over, cut it at the base and haul it across an uneven field. They sure got their workout this weekend.”

Brower organized the DU contingent as a way to unite students from across campus to work toward a common cause. “Every religion has some component of service,” he says.  “Here we had undergraduates and graduates working across boundaries and coming together to serve but to also coming to a greater understanding of each other.”

Finder agrees that all-ages opportunities like Project Glean are great for groups. “It’s a good opportunity to get involved in service,” he says. “It’s outdoors, it’s fun and it’s a great bonding thing.”

“So much of community service — like donating money — is done at an arm’s length,” Brower says. “With hands-on service like this you get a real sense or who you are and where you stand in the big picture of things.”

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