Have you ever heard about “Gleaning”?
The U.S.D.A. defines gleaning as “the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants or other sources in order to provide it to those in need.”
For this month’s blog, we’ll be focusing on the gardening aspect of gleaning.
Gleaning with a garden has many benefits:
- It’s an excellent opportunity to teach kids about gardening and food insecurity.
- It’s an easy way to donate to your local food bank and make a difference for your neighbors in need.
- It’s a great way to supply food banks with items that are expensive or difficult to obtain due to food shortages.
Growing a garden that fights hunger with gleaning is easier than you might think.
First, while planning your garden for the growing season, consider different veggies than usual, with some explicitly marked to donate. (Or the whole garden!)
With Fall approaching, growing produce like cauliflower, celery, collards, green onions, potatoes, spinach, and leaf lettuce is a great way to keep food banks stocked when the holidays arrive.
Here’s a quick guide on when to plant Fall/Winter veggies:
- 10-12 weeks before the first frost: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery.
- 8-10 weeks before the first frost: Arugula, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips
- 6-8 weeks before the first frost: Beets, radishes
Now you’ve got your garden decided, get your green thumb ready and start planting. Experienced gardeners know that if a harvest is successful, you are usually left with more than you can use or give away to friends and family.
That’s where gleaning comes in. Instead of composting the extras or tossing them out, donate that extra produce to your local food bank!
It’s easy as can be!
We always accept produce at Long Island Cares, especially when it’s in short supply. No matter how much you choose to glean, even just a few veggies here and there will be enough to provide a family in need with a healthy dinner. We know from experience there is nothing our partner agencies love more than fresh fruits and veggies, especially if they are locally grown!
When you glean a garden harvest, you’ll make a direct impact on food insecurity on Long Island. According to Long Island Cares Chief Procurement and Supply Chain Officer Bob LaBarbara, Long Island Cares procures an average of two-million pounds of produce annually!
Only about half that number comes from donations, with the rest purchased from local farms, the government, and other vendors.
Help cut costs at the food bank by gleaning your garden! Your support allows Long Island Cares to put those costs into developing programs, opening satellite locations, and fighting hunger better than ever before.