Last Saturday I spent the day gleaning on a lovely farm in Kent.
It was a last minute thing – a post came up on my social media from Feedback calling for volunteers for the next day. Feedback is an environmental organisation that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. They fight for change – from local communities to governments and global organisations. Their aim is to change society’s attitude toward wasting food. As we at Greener Greens do, Feedback understand that food waste is a symptom of our broken food system. By scaling back farming intensity and by eliminating the significant inputs that go into crop growing we can drastically reduce the amount of food that we waste.
The purpose of the glean on Saturday was to rescue as much as possible of the 1000’s of potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and spring greens which could not make it to the market and would otherwise have been wasted. These particular greens were potentially going to waste because of the recent weather speeding up the growth cycle. The farm would not have been able to harvest and sell them in time before they flowered and spoilt. The potatoes were going to waste because they were cosmetic outgrades- too big or too small for commercial market.
We started by picking purple sprouting broccoli from a field that was due to be ploughed over the following day. This particular field had already been harvested by the farm, but there was plenty left for us.
We then did a stint with some potatoes dividing them into sacks. The best bit for me though was being given a bushcraft knife and the task of cutting the remaining spring green cabbages from the fields. I saw a red-legged pheasant for the first time too!
The veg will be passed on to various organisations, including The Felix Project, UK Harvest as well as various other local organisations, where they will be put to good use: feeding people who need them the most. Many projects such as homeless hostels, breakfast clubs, womens’ refuge centres, and services for the elderly will be flooded with delicious food.
Do have a look at Feedback and the work that they do. They’re a brilliant organisation who have the same core values as we do. They do have organised gleans that you can help with too – see their website for more information and to sign up. I’d recommend it – it was a brilliant thing to do, and I got to spend the day on a farm!