Gleaning: It’s a new project for us, but it’s not a new idea at all.
Gathering the leftovers after a harvest has been going on forever. Why, it’s even mentioned in the Bible. Then, of course, there’s the famous painting by Jean-Francois Millet, The Gleaners, depicting three peasant women. It was poorly received by the French upper classes in 1857 for featuring the lowest ranks of rural society in a sympathetic way, yet it now hangs in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
That’s today’s history lesson over. What about the present day, and how is Transition Dundee involved? How is this age-old practice to avoid waste being brought right up to date?
We’re starting up our project under the Gleaning Network umbrella.
This is just what is sounds like, a network of groups, organisations, farmers, charities and volunteers who are all working together to reduce waste right at the beginning of the chain. On the farm. For many reasons, farmers and growers are unable to sell all their produce on, so doesn’t it make perfect sense for communities to get together to salvage it and re-distribute it?
There’s lots of information on the website, including ideas for other ways to make our food system more sustainable.
If you’re not sure how necessary that is, just talk to people involved in our sector and in the agricultural sector and they’ll tell you faintly horrific stories about mountains of courgettes and bananas destined for the bin, and groups of people desperately in need of food, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables.
Research has found that farmers waste around 16% of their crop before it even leaves the field or barn, and having spoken to farmers and growers, we can assure you that they don’t like it any more than we do.
We all know that in the recent past supermarkets would reject a whole field’s worth of veg if it was not the right size or shape, and while we’re not saying that doesn’t still go on, plenty of retailers now proudly sell their Wonky Veg. So it’s up to us to use our power as consumers and make it clear that we are very happy to buy a crooked carrot or muddy spuds.
As for our gleaning project, if you’d like to be involved, please get in touch.
We think a gleaning day sounds rather good – out in the fresh air with like-minded people and the satisfaction of knowing that you are really contributing to our community and to the wider world. We’re definitely up for that.