Get gleaning. Join a local organization gleaning extra produce from orchards and farm fields to donate to the hungry.
Gardeners know one garden can produce an amazing amount of food. While it's great to freeze, preserve and store produce for winter use for your own family, sharing is just as important. Programs such as Plant a Row for the Hungry encourage home gardeners to plant an extra row to give to the local food shelf or pantry in their community. Another similar program is gaining traction across the country.
Gleaning is when a group of people go into a freshly harvested orchard, farm field, or even community garden and harvest what is left behind. It's estimated almost 100 billion pounds of produce is wasted each year in America. That's more than 1/4 of all the produce we grow. Gleaning is a way to capture some of that excess produce and then donate it to those in need.
Gleaning operations are often organized by local food shelves and pantries. There are estimated to be almost 40,000 food shelves around the country and there’s probably one in your area. These organizations contact local farmers and coordinate volunteers to show up on the farm to glean what's left behind. So, if you don't have extra produce in your garden to share, consider hooking up with your local gleaning operation. Contact your local food shelf or Renewall Garden Project to find out about gleaning programs and how to get involved. A day or two gleaning can help make a difference in a hungry life and if all of us work together, "many hands will make light work".