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The Art of Gleaning

My hope is you will glean something useful from this blog.

I was recently invited to participate in Gleaning. What is Gleaning? Gleaning is simply collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers’ markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources to provide it to those in need. My gleaning project will involve harvesting produce from fields. I was not familiar with gleaning until receiving the invitation. Apparently, a significant amount of produce is left over after a crop has been commercially harvested. Some estimates put farm food waste at about 20%. Crops may be at risk of being wasted because cosmetic issues make the crop hard to sell. Other economic factors can cause crops to go unharvested as well. There are a number of organizations that host gleaning events.

As it turns out, this new idea is not so new at all.

Gleaning is referred to several times in the Bible. The Old Testament of The Bible commanded Hebrew farmers to leave a portion of their crops unharvested and allow poor neighbors and strangers to come onto their land to pick what was left for themselves and their families. A quick Google search yielded 19 Bible verses that made reference to gleaning. As I’m writing this, I have yet to participate in gathering leftover crops. I’m looking forward to the experience. It’s funny how things like this are all around you, but it takes someone to bring it to your attention to make you aware of it.

In looking at a variety of gleaning articles, I came across one that was gleaning to the max.

In that case, fruit that was well past its prime was cooked down and turned into preserves. The only reason for a fruit to be rejected was rot or mold.

A video of the canning process took me back many years ago when my mother would make grape jelly from grapes in the backyard. The canning process was gleaning of sorts. After the jelly was made, it was the job of my siblings and me to distribute jelly to the neighbors.

I’m not a farmer, so I can’t offer my leftover crops to be gleaned. However, I (we) have unharvested “leftovers” that can be gleaned. The next time you clean out your garage or storage shed, see if that unused bicycle could find a happy new owner. There are probably plenty of things in that heap that could be given a new life.

It’s not just stuff that you have that can be gleaned.

It could be your talent to help a struggling students with their studies. Perhaps you’re a business owner with extra space that could be used by a non-profit. In addition to doing good, you can talk to your accountant about possible tax breaks. I know these things don’t apply to everyone. Remember, I’m talking about things that we may have in abundance.

By the time this blog reaches you, I will have experienced the gathering of otherwise unharvested food. If you want to know what I thought of it and how you might do the same, feel free to call me to talk about it.

May 2023

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