What is gleaning? According to Merriam-Webster its:
- to gather grain or other produce left by reapers
- to gather information or material bit by bit
This post is about my doing a bit of both.
Wikipedia says gleaning is: the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system.
I recently became aware of this practice of ‘gleaning for charity’ after receiving a request from a local non-profit. They were asking for volunteers to help glean local farm fields for the local food banks. I must say I had an immediate negative response to this request and subsequent conversations with others too. Why? Well, my first thought was about the labour issue. I thought with so many out of work and in need, couldn’t low-income workers get pay to do this for Skagit farmers’ fields? Why free labour? That is before my complete understanding of the process and what this ancient practise is all about. Skagit farmers’ are hurting also and can’t afford to pay to have their fields gleaned. Most just plow this material under after harvest of their crop or produce.
According to a local charity, 20% of Skagit Co. community uses food banks. Wow, that is about 23,906 people! [ 2009 census Skagit Pop. 119,534]
[The fact this perpetuates the problem of hunger and folks in need, needing food banks, is another issue in itself. I'd encourage you to visit and get involved with the Population Health Forum of UW if you are interested in learning more on that issue.]
So after a few days of ‘gleaning’ information from different resources on and offline, I have a broader view of “Gleaning for Charity”. A few of the resources are Skagit CAP , Sustainable Food Jobs , Skagit’s SUSO’s Jodie Buller interview Gleaning and Envision Skagit 2060 [mP3].
What do you think of ’Gleaning’ farm fields for food banks or other charities/ non-profits?