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. Tifton is a southwest Georgia town with a population of about 20,000 citizens but rich with crop farmers and central to rural Georgia. Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) covers a gleaning operation for the state of Georgia, overseen by the Program Coordinator. The state currently has one Hunger Advocate based in Cleveland, Georgia, covering the mountain region in North Georgia. The focus area of SoSA’s work, south rural Georgia, presents several challenges including transportation for volunteers, recipients, and aging populations, a lack of economic development in small communities, limited access to the internet, lack of access to fresh produce, and racially divided communities. Georgia ranks ninth in the nation when it comes to senior food insecurity, and the overall food insecurity for the state was 15.1 percent in 2016. As of November 2017, the Georgia Gleaning Network has collected 1.3 million pounds of produce that have been distributed to community agencies throughout the state.
The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) is a domestic faith-based non-profit, focused on hunger-relief and food advocacy, with the Georgia Branch located in Tifton, Georgia. SoSA operates a volunteer-driven Gleaning Network in Georgia that includes volunteers who save fresh produce every year and use it to feed hungry people all across the state. The Americorps VISTA works alongside the Program Coordinator in Tifton and state director in Atlanta, gathering best practices of gleaning to expand the gleaning network to other regions in South Georgia. Through the Georgia Gleaning Network, we coordinate volunteers in many areas of the state who enter fields after farmers have finished harvesting and simply pick up the tons of good produce left behind. Our volunteers represent groups from various church denominations, synagogues, youth groups, other civic organizations, individuals, and inner-city residents.
Background of Operations
Society of St. Andrew’s success is built on strong relationships with local influencers, individuals, communities and civic organizations. The collection of these partnerships with Society of St. Andrew is called the Gleaning Network. Given the Gleaning Network’s importance, it’s necessary to determine the key factors for sustainable growth. The most influential factors being, whether it precludes or includes the potential partner, are opportunity, distribution/ logistical barriers and the area's rate of food insecurity in that community. The types of relationships integral to operations will be addresses below and include Volunteer, Farmers, and Agencies. Society of St. Andrew cultivates will be addressed in the section Gleaning Model.
The three sides of a triangle in Graphic 1 create the gleaning model for SoSA. Each one is important to the process and SoSA’s mission could not be done without all three. The key groups are defined as Volunteers, Agencies, and Farmers. Agencies SoSAs distribute to, Farmers or growers that donate Society of St. Andrew/Rotary First Harvest Resource Guide 4 produce and trained glean teams volunteers donate their time too. Without any one of these three, the structure would collapse. The Gleaning Model (graphic 1) is the visual depiction of Society of St. Andrew’s Gleaning Network. As mentioned in the previous section, the relationships are key in the organization's success so SOSA has created an efficient and effective information database to determine success. The database tracks many metrics but most importantly pounds donated by growers/producers, community service hours by a group or individual volunteer, and pounds distributed to receiving agencies.