Gleaning Etiquette and Safety: Farms can have several hazards for volunteers. Extra caution is necessary when in the fields to avoid danger and awareness is very important for all of the volunteers. As guests at the farm where customers typically don’t go, there are rules to follow when in the field:
No pets are allowed
Volunteers must stay in the designated area assigned by the gleaning coordinator
Bathroom use in the fields is prohibited. Hands must be washed prior to returning. Wastewater is to be collected.
Verify with the farmer the proper paths to take to the field or if special clothing is necessary.
Leave no trace. All trash is to be collected.
Verify any containers or transportation beds have been cleaned prior to produce contact
Clean tools before and after gleaning, collect wastewater if washing on the farm.
Materials Needed - Row Crop: You will typically glean one type of produce in a field. Do your research or ask the farmer on what type of materials you will need:
Leafy greens may require machetes
Berries may require disposable gloves to prevent volunteers hands from being stained
Potatoes and onions may require mesh bags or tarps for gathering larger amounts
Keeping a portable bin with all materials needed for gleaning, as well as a first-aid kit and organization brochures and cards, will help to keep materials organized and portable. This should be stored in the truck at the field for easy access. See “Field Gleaning Checklist” for more information.
Transportation: A truck and/or trailer should be used to follow the volunteers through the field on designated field roads. This will make it easier for the volunteers to load the truck. If there is no room for a truck, have volunteers place full bins/boxes/buckets at the end of a row for the truck to pick up.
Data Recording: It is essential for your group to record all pounds gleaned. Farmers will need to know what kind of produce was collected and how much for their tax purposes. Keep track of different produce separately. If you plan on donating to several agencies after a glean, accurately track how many pounds went to each agency.
Measuring produce can be done in three ways:
Donate all gathered produce to a food bank. They typically have scales and give you an accurate weight upon receiving the donation.
Bring a scale to the field. This can be a digital bathroom scale that shows pounds to the .1 pound. Have volunteers pick produce into the same type of bin, box, or bucket and keep track of how many is collect. Make an estimate of the weight: number of bins/boxes/buckets collected X the weight of a full bins/boxes/buckets. You can always weigh each bin, box, or bucket individually and add it all up at the end of the event.
Use a box that is appropriate for the type of produce you are collecting (See “Produce Conversions”) and estimate how many boxes would fit into the bed of a truck or a trailer. This can be done by simple math: how many boxes across (width) X how many boxes deep (length) X how many boxes high (height). Based on how full the bed or trailer is with produce, you can estimate the pounds.
Society of St. Andrew Georgia Gleaning Network opened in Tifton in 2007. It is a southwest Georgia town with a population of about 20,000 citizens but rich with crop farmers in the immediate area. Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) covers a gleaning operation for all of the state of Georgia, overseen by the Program Coordinator. The state currently has one Area Coordinator in Cleveland, Georgia, covering the mountain region in North Georgia. The VISTA works alongside the Program Coordinator in Tifton, gathering best practices of gleaning to expand the gleaning network to other regions in south Georgia. Being located in a Southern U.S., rural area presents several challenges including transportation for both volunteers and recipients, aging populations, lack of economic development in small communities, lack of access to fresh produce, and racially divided communities. Georgia ranks ninth in the nation when it comes to food insecurity for the senior population, and overall food insecurity for the state is 16.7 percent in 2015. As of November 2017, the SoSA Gleaning Network with has collected 1.3 million pounds of produce that has been distributed to community agencies throughout Georgia.