Gleaning

Just heard of this. “Gleaning” is apparently the process of harvesting food crops from farm fields that would be otherwise left to waste in the field. Wikipedia has a good description of gleaning:

“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. For example, ancient Jewish communities required that farmers not reap all the way to the edges of a field so as to leave some for the poor and for strangers. (Lev. 19:9–10., Lev. 23:22, Deut. 14:28-29, Peah).”

Woah, sorry it got all religious on you. But perhaps there is something to this. I’ve felt a strong spiritual element to my gardening this past season. Spiritual, not religious. But anyway. I just heard this term “gleaning” tonight on the radio — not Sykes or Belling, but one of those damn hippies that they give free reign over on our local communist radio station, WUWM. (The commie-hippies on the air during “Car Talk” and “Marketplace” are especially insufferable.)

The proletariat brainwashing must have worked, as I’m now intrigued with the apparent success of Salvation Farms in Vermont. Their website claims that in 2007, they gleaned a total of “53,563 pounds of fresh local produce, 148 loaves of bread, 72 cut flowers, 58 potted perennials, 520 packets of seeds, 200 vegetable starts, and 1 CSA share box!”

That’s a lot of food.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you don’t worry much about having food. (I’m looking at you, Greg. It was good to see you today, by the way.) But there are many, many people in Milwaukee that do. Even people that I know have had this concern. And what do you do when there’s no food, and no money to get it? While I don’t stay up late pondering this, it is a problem that will get worse as the price of food and gasoline continues to rise. Perhaps this “gleaning” is a way to deal with it.

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

1 thought on “Gleaning”

  1. Back when I had poultry, I’d keep a few buckets and a shovel in the back of the van. Farmers are always spilling corn on the side of the road. Scoop it up, free feed.

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