By Karen Hansen and Muriel Strand
Gleaning, the ancient practice of picking over farm fields after the harvest, is making a comeback. Joe and Chris Miller's fields at a Colorado farm were picked so clean in one day last November that a second day of gleaning was canceled Sunday after 40,000 people showed up the first day.
There are Gleaning Projects all around the nation. In Sacramento, Valley Vision mentions the Senior Gleaners in their Report on Food Access in the Sacramento Region: An Assessment of Access to Healthy Foods I Low-Income Communities of the Sacramento region, available at http://www.valleyvision.org/
The Sacramento Senior Gleaners have been receiving and distributing food donations for almost 33 years. Farmers markets are one source of donations that have certainly become more important in recent years. www.seniorgleaners.org/
Randy Stannard, the Food Access Coordinator for the Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture Project (www.soilborn.org) in Rancho Cordova, says, “Soil Born donates (or has donated) regularly to Sierra-Arden Food Closet, Cordova Food Locker, Sacramento Food Bank, and Food Not Bombs. I am pretty sure that River City Food Services also accepts donations.”
Also, Soil Born recently joined with other organizations, community groups and interested community residents to form a new group called Harvest Sacramento. According to Stannard, “It started from a couple in East Sacramento that wanted to organize in their neighborhood to glean the many citrus trees that they saw going to waste. We gleaned about 3000 pounds this early spring over 3-4 gleaning days.”
The group is beginning to look for grant funding to facilitate better coordination of their efforts, via a web interface to collect information on homeowners with trees that they want to have gleaned, volunteers who want to do the gleaning, and neighborhood information that will include toolkits for them to start their own neighborhood-based gleaning efforts that tie into the larger effort.
Another local resource for urban farmers is the Raphael Garden at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, and the biodynamic workshops held there. http://steinercollege.yellowpipe.com/?q=node/162
The Sustainable Urban Gardens website at www.sacgardens.org/ offers lots of tips for beginning gardeners, as well as the story of how. just a few years ago, Sacramento Citizens for Sustainable Landscapes insisted that the city council make food legal in Sacramento front yards.
Crop swaps are about trading what you’ve gleaned from your own garden. The Oak Park Crop Swap meets from June to September, every Monday at 6-7pm at McClatchy Park, to swap vegetables, fruit, flowers, and gardening stories.