How 'everybody wins' with gleaning farm fields after harvest

·2 min read
Jean and Frank McKearney enjoy both the picking and the view at Shore Breeze Farm. (Isabelle Gallant/CBC - image credit)
Jean and Frank McKearney enjoy both the picking and the view at Shore Breeze Farm. (Isabelle Gallant/CBC - image credit)

Following a slowdown in activity during the pandemic gleaning, the practice of picking leftover produce after the harvest, is making a comeback on P.E.I.

Gleanings are organized through the P.E.I. Food Exchange, and make the most of food that otherwise might go to waste, left to rot in the fields after commercial harvesting is done.

One-third of produce gleaned goes to the farm, one-third to the gleaners, and one-third to food banks.

Frank McKearney was gleaning strawberries at  Shore Breeze Farm in Argyle Shore this week.

Isabelle Gallant/CBC
Isabelle Gallant/CBC

"It's a beautiful place to do it. The wind is up, there's no bugs, that really helps, and it's not too hot yet," McKearney said.

"It's a great idea, with the three-way split. Yeah, everybody wins."

Shirley Lee has been gleaning for two years. Like McKearney, she loves both the activity and the results.

"The strawberries are delicious and the scenery is beautiful and it's nice to see old friends again," said Lee.

Isabelle Gallant/CBC
Isabelle Gallant/CBC

"We do things not only for ourselves, but also help others."

Lillian MacCannell got hooked on gleaning a few years ago, picking beans and zucchini.

"I had so much fun and met such a variety of people," said MacCannell.

MacCannell now helps organize gleanings, and is the co-ordinator for the gleaning at Sea Breeze Farm. She gets a call from the farmer when commercial harvesting is done, and arranges for gleaners to come in.

"It takes a product out of the field that's going to be wasted and gets it into the hands of people who can really, really use it. It's such a treat for people to be able to pick up strawberries at a food bank," she said.

"I tend to put the not-so-great berries in [my container} because I'm making jam."

Islanders interested in gleaning can contact the P.E.I. Food Exchange through their Facebook page.

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