This is a repost of an earlier topic posted by nutcase over on the APN, very well written and informative, and a topic not a lot of people know about these days…
Gleaning for for free or really cheap
by nutcase » Fri May 18, 2012 7:53 pm
I am sure many already think of this, so I am just going to put this out there.
In my community there is a gleaning “club” at the local senior center. Local farmers often have a contract for so many ton of a certain crop. Once they reach the quota, if the market is soft they will cull the remaining crop. Before they do they will give the senior center a call and say come get all you want. They in turn give us a call and say come get all you want. This is my first year and so I have high hopes. So far this year we have received calls for carrots.
So that is the “Club” way of doing things. Another way is to just get to know the farmers yourself. Often times they don’t mind you coming out to glean after harvest. Here is a few examples:
Apples (I do live in Washington): they are labor intensive to harvest so some years they just leave them on the trees because labor is too expensive. Even if they do harvest them all, there are pollinator trees they do not harvest, so harvest these. Then there is always the windfall fruit or any fruit that falls on the ground cannot be put in the boxes to market.
Fruits: often many people have fruit trees in their yards and never harvest anything, maybe a bucket or two but never really touch the bulk of the yield. Approach the homeowner and ask for permission to harvest, and get all you can. Then go home can it and make sure you bring back some of your bounty to the donor. They will be more inclined to let you come back next year, if you give them some jam or a pie.
Potatoes: They are every where here. Go out soon after, same day if possible, harvest and pick out the culls they throw off. Lots of times they don’t always get every single piece harvested, on the edges of the field they will leave a little for you.(http://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/ruth/2?lang=eng) After harvest is over I have a friend that allows me to get all I need from his spud shed. Even after that my brother hauls spuds for the farmers to the plants. At the plants they often have QA rejects and it just goes to the hogs. I have been known to eat hog food; we have the same stomach you know.
Carrots: This is one of those contract things, most of the times a farmer gets a contract for say 100 ton, they grow a full circle to ensure they meet their quota, and usually fill quota with only 1/2-2/3rds of circle. The balance of circle is then tilled back into ground. If you have contacts this can be an easy source.
Grains: This one has eluded me for the most part. We have had a couple of train derailments which has provided some grains. Near the grain silos they spill some and just let the birds collect. I am a bird brain sometimes. It is easier for me to buy directly from farmer, at least until I find a way to glean it consistently.
Tomatoes: Here in NW Ohio, there are always a lot of tomatoe fields, just take a short drive in the country and you`ll find one. Stop by and talk with the farmer, most have no problem with you helping yourself once the harvest is done. You will want to bring help, beacuse it`s easy to gather BUSHELS of tomatoes. Easy to process, we normally put up over 40 quarts a year w/o planting a single vine. These types of tomatoes are closely related to roma`s, so they`re excellent for sauce, stewing, and/or juicing!
Breads: This I think any one can do. In my town and many across the US there are bread stores that sell close dated bread (breads that are about to expire) to me this just mean opportunity. I buy it in the form of animal feed (sometimes they call it hog food). I buy a rack (about a pick-up load) at a time; it usually costs me $25. Most of this truly does go to the birds, but I do scavenge through and preserve my favorite types of breads and sweets. I usually freeze what I will use in the next month or two; it takes that long to get through the list back to me. After I pick through what is family food I just unpackage the rest to dry up so it does not mold. Then I feed it to my chickens.
I know not everyone has the same opportunities. I think if one to look around they would see the waste all around then try to find out where you can get the freshest waste available. Sometimes, more often than not, it is even fresher than market. Some of these strategies may take time to build up, but the reward can be very big, if you are willing to invest some time.
I am always looking for new ways to get lots of food to either store or consume. This is just some things I have done to help reduce the food bill for our large family. If you have others ideas please post.The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.
A lot of the same principles apply right here in the buckeye state, just a few different crops to pick from.
Thanx to nutcase for the great info, just thought I`d share it again!