The ‘Gleaning Network’ is an initiative to save the thousands of tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables that are wasted on UK farms every year.Farmers across the country often have no choice but to leave tonnes of their crops un-harvested and get ploughed back in the soil. These crops cannot reach the market either because they fail to meet the retail strict cosmetic standards or because of overproduction. At the same time, 5.8 million people suffer from deep poverty in the UK and cannot afford a decent diet, and this number is on the rise. Gleaning Network UK coordinates teams of volunteers, local farmers and food redistribution charities in order to salvage this fresh, nutritious food and direct it to those that need it most.
In our case, we have been lucky enough to have a bumper crop of leeks this year, resulting from a combination of a mild winter and some new varieties we grew for the first time last season. We have sold a lot of leeks, but those still in the field will start bolting soon, and we’re unlikely to sell all of them, so we called the gleaners in. As farmers, we think Its great to have an organisation that can call upon it’s many volunteers to harvest the crop; and then have a distribution network set up so the produce can get to charities that can make good use of it.
The weather forecast was dire, but in the end, most of the rain had passed over before the work started, and by the end of the day the volunteers were basking in the sun. Thanks to all the volunteers, (including some from Wye), a van full of leeks left Wye for London at the end of the day, ready for distribution and some leeks were kept aside for Canterbury charity ‘Catching Lives’
See the ITV Meridian coverage here http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/update/2014-04-26/new-project-in-kent-rescues-food-that-would-go-to-waste/