When Gleaning Works for Everyone
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. So, when is gleaning a good idea and how can it benefit everyone? The answer is in groups like Mary’s River Gleaners, Portland Cider Company, as well as other organizations that utilize fallen fruit to help others.
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.
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.
Putting Fallen Fruit to Good Use
As apples and pears begin falling from trees in Portland, one local cider company has been asking locals to bring them their leftover and gleaned fruit to help raise money for Partners for a Hunger-free Oregon. In 2021, the cider company helped raise over $13,000 by crafting a special PDX Community Cider made from the gleaned fruit. But the wonderfulness doesn’t stop there. Those who donate fruit get a voucher for a free pint.
Do you have leftover apples or pears? Portland Cider may still be looking for fallen and gleaned fruit. Visit portlandcider.com/drive for drop-off days, times, and locations.
Mary’s River Gleaners, a non-profit 501(c)(3) in Oregon’s Willamette Valley harvests corn at the Oregon State University Crop Farm, as well as cuts, splits, hauls, and delivers firewood to the disabled, elderly and others. The landowner gets rid of the unwanted trees and the nonprofit is 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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