A gleaner picks leftover produce from a garden in Ferry County.
It occasionally happens to almost every farmer and gardener. Sometimes they plant more than they need, or more than they can use. And as the harvest season ebbs toward winter, fields or plots can still be garnished with crops that just havenâ€™t got around to being picked.
But instead of allowing the produce to just wither on the vine, this is where the Northeast Washington Gleaners Club comes in.
The organization is a 501-C3 nonprofit that consists of individuals and families that will harvest remaining foods in gardens and fields (with land ownerâ€™s permission, of course) and pick up surplus from various food delivery companies. Whatever provisions they receive are split 50/50, with half going to Gleaner members and the other half going to charitable organizations like the Colville Food and Resource Center or the Kettle Falls Food Bank, and out-reach ministries.
â€śBasically, we give it to whoever can use it, so it can go to any food bank in the area,â€ť says NEW Gleaners Supervisor Linda Murphy. â€śFood that would otherwise be tossed out or left to rot gets saved and put to good use.â€ť
The group currently has 15 local families enrolled as members that meet once a month. They have several locations, or â€śgleansâ€ť as they are called, where they retrieve left over crops and surplus.
Waste not--want not
Members must sign a personal liability clause so that the donator cannot be held responsible if a person in the group is accidentally hurt on their property. Receipts are required to be given to anyone who donates, and donations are tax-deductible. The clubâ€™s bylaws are available upon request.
â€śWeâ€™re always looking for gleans, even if itâ€™s a garden in someoneâ€™s backyard,â€ť Murphy says. â€śWe do our best to make sure thereâ€™s no waste. There is a supervisor at every glean to make sure everything goes smoothly and that people are behaving appropriately and respectfully.â€ť
As for joining the club, its standards require that anyone wishing to enroll must have a referral from someone in the club that knows them and will vouch for them.
â€śObviously, we are helping ourselves, but we are also helping others. If people have left over food that they are not going to eat because they planted too much, or a surplus company delivered more than a restaurant can take, this stuff shouldnâ€™t go to waste. Itâ€™s something that can be utilized for the whole community,â€ť Murphy states.
For more information, contact Murphy at 685-2187.