SNOW HILL – Plant, cultivate, harvest — three words farmers value completely. However, these three words can have even more meaning.
“There is a really neat analogy between growing and farming,” said Laura Hearn. “Plant, cultivate, harvest. It’s obvious on the agriculture side, but it is also a thing you do with people. God plants seeds in us that make us want to invest in other people and by doing that, we all have richer lives,”
Hearn, 33, and her brother, Will Kornegay, 31, have created Glean, a brand of foods that provides a healthy eating option and in turn donates a pound to the hungry per pound sold.
“Glean, for us, the name of the company stems from the biblical concept of gleaning in the Bible,” said Kornegay. “Farmers in the Bible were mandated by law to allow the poor and unfortunate to actually glean their fields. They were required to leave some of their crop in the field for those people to glean and live off of.
“We took that to heart and broadened it a little bit by saying, ‘We want to repurpose that by gleaning vegetables that cannot be used and give back,’ he added. “One of the greatest commandments from Jesus in the New Covenant is to love one another. I truly believe that as it says in Corinthians, that the Holy Spirit is written on your heart. You see an outward change from an inward transformation. As that transformation occurs, you begin to show more love for everyone and begin to love the things God loves and hates the things God hates. With Glean, we see it as a great opportunity to share that love.”
From their passion for people and agriculture, this venture was created.
“Farmers leave products in the field like sweet potatoes that have insect damage or growth damage, or things that are not viable for a retail outlet,” he said. “We’re taking products farmers would typically lose and left in the field, and repurposing them for products that can help people’s lives.”
Kornegay and Hearn, with their backgrounds in sweet potato production, gathered the used fruits and vegetables from local farmers and began the process of gleaning to turn them into flour and powders. Currently, they produce a sweet potato flour, a pumpkin flour and a beet powder.
“One thing people may not realize is when they are shopping in grocery stores, they are looking for a perfect produce,” said Hearn. “With this produce, while it may not look perfect, the quality is fine. Our mission aligns with reviving produce and people with purpose.”
“The goal is for us to work with farmers to use their fruits and vegetables they can’t use in the field to make other healthier options for people,” added Kornegay.
A mix for smoothies. A breader for seafood. A topping for yogurt. There are plenty of ways consumers can use the flour and, of course, each powder comes with its own source of nutrients and protein.
“These are all very versatile items,” said Hearn. “Beets have their own unique flavor profile. They can all be used as a flour alternative for people who are gluten-free or looking to add different nutrients or flavor profiles into their existing recipes. It’s really good as a blend with your favorite flour, whether it’s almond flour, gluten-free or regular flour, for cakes and pies. They mix well with soups and sauces to thicken or add flavor.
“There is so much usage in being able to take a dehydrated sweet potato and using it for a healthy eating option,” she added.
Most importantly, for every pound sold, a pound is given to a person fighting hunger through local food banks and homeless shelters. Organizations wishing to partner can contact Glean via their website.
“Our passion is helping people, and it’s important to us we do that in all that we do,” added Kornegay.
Glean graciously offered North State Journal readers a chance to try their products at a reduced cost. Readers can visit www.liveglean.com to purchase a powder ranging in price from $9.99 to $19.99 and enter the code: “NSJ15” for a 15 percent discount. To top it off, you’ll find a delicious sweet potato cookie recipe perfect for the fall season.
Sweet Potato Protein Cookies
- 3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
- 1/2 cup nut butter (we used peanut, but any would work)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2-3 tbsp maple syrup (depending on desired level of sweetness)
- 3/4 cup mixed nuts and fruit (we used almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cranberries and raisins)
- 1/4 cup sweet potato flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch of sea salt
Combine sweet potato, nut butter and eggs in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup, seed and fruit mixture and stir to combine.
- Add sweet potato flour and baking soda and stir.
- Scoop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (8-12 cookies).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and let cookies cool for a few minutes.
- Place on parchment paper and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Eat cold or heat for 30 seconds and enjoy!
Yields: 10-12 cookies depending on size