When Ruth followed her mother-in-law to the land of Isreal, she had no way to support them. She followed advices and went into the fields to gleen. Any produce that was dropped or left behind, Ruth picked up and either sold it, or fed her tiny family with it. It is a tradition that has continued around the world for thousands of years, and still exists today. Gleening has become more organized as groups formed to share in the resources and work. I am a member of one such group, and this is how ours works.
Members register through the local senior center and the annual $20 fee goes towards their Meals in wheels program. Local farmers donate food for various reasons. A corn field may ha flooded preventing equipment from harvesting. A hail storm caused blemishes to an apple orchard or the field produced more than the farmer could sell. The gleening club members first fill bins that go to the Senior Center or local food bank to be distributed as needed. Then, we are allowed to pick whatever is left and bring home.
Another source are senior citizens who have trees in the backyard. They are unable to pick the fruit, yet don’t want it dropping all over their yard. The gleeners come in, and pick the trees clean, tidy up the yard, and let the owners take what they want. The remaining produce is divided between those who worked.
A common misconception is that something must be wrong with the food. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Our butternut squash was harvested from an organic farm and was donated because of the rather large and unusual shape preventing them from being sold for market.
Food that is of high quality and ready to be canned, frozen or put away for long term storage.
Whether you want to save money or just help others, gleening is a wonderful tradition to continue. A google search can help yu find a group in your area, or learn how to create your own.