What better time than Thanksgiving to think about how to share with people in need? In the farming world, this sharing often takes the form of the ancient tradition of gleaning. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from a farmers field. The concept goes back a long way: apparently, ancient Jewish law required that farmers not reap their entire field so that some might be left for the poor (see #9 on this page, and #22 on this page)
Check out this recent article in the Press Democrat about gleaning in Sonoma County. It features Melita Love, who collects food for the food pantry at the Healdsburg farmers market and recently started a gleaning project to collect and distribute surplus bounty from farmers fields.
Other local organizations that promote gleaning are the Petaluma Bounty Hunters and the Willits Grateful Gleaners. According to the Society of St. Andrew–a national organization that delivers millions of pounds of gleaned food across the country– over 25 percent of food produced in the United States is wasted! If you have a home garden or backyard fruit trees that are producing way more than you can handle, think about getting in touch with one of the local gleaning groups so that all that great food can go to hungry, grateful bellies.