The history of gleaning is fraught with kingly decrees and modern legal battles. In case you’re new to the concept, gleaning is the age-old process of harvesting leftover crops (apples, berries, even wood) from someone’s land.
Gleaning Throughout the Ages
Hundreds of years ago, gleaning was a way to ensure the poor had enough to eat. In Medieval England, peasants had the right to glean leftover crops from any field they wanted. Today, laws are in place to protect landowners. So, when is gleaning a good idea and how can it benefit everyone? The answer is in groups like Mary’s River Gleaners.
Humanitarian groups that work with local growers to harvest fruit left on the vine or the ground after harvest are gleaning. These groups rely on volunteers to help harvest leftover corn, apples, and more, which is then distributed to families in need. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Mary’s River Gleaners, a non-profit 501(c)(3) in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has recently harvested corn at the Oregon State University Crop Farm, as well as cut, split, hauled, and delivered firewood to the disabled, elderly and others. The landowner got rid of the unwanted trees and the nonprofit was able to fulfill its mission.
In the Spokane region, Fields of Grace is another gleaning group that works with orchards and growers to glean apples, peaches, pears, carrots, and more. Each year, they glean thousands of pounds of fruit, which is then distributed to those in need through groups such as 2nd Harvest.
If you’re interested in learning more about gleaning in your area and how to help a local non-profit with its mission to feed those with less, check out one of these groups.
Fields of Grace (Richland, WA)
Bellingham Food Bank (Bellingham, WA)
Skagit Gleaners (Mt. Vernon, WA)
Mary’s River Gleaners (Corvallis, OR)
Tualatin Valley Gleaners (Portland, OR)
The Gleaning Network (Central Point, OR)
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