If we plant edibles, will people actually glean?

For gleaning to take place, we recommend the following:

  • Plant a diversity of food plants, including plants that can be used as main ingredients, and those that can be used as spices, sweeteners, and decorative garnishes.
  • Include plants that can be used for teas, infusions or other kinds of drinks.
  • Incorporate plants known to have medicinal benefits.
  • Incorporate plants useful for potpourri, soaps, or other household uses.
  • Incorporate plants found in the various cuisines of the world.
  • If planting edibles into an existing border, remove any existing plants that could be toxic if mistakenly harvested and eaten.
  • For any given type of plant, plant more than one variety, not only to maximize pollination success, but also to provide a variety of flavors, colors and textures, and to maximize the length of the harvest season.
  • Place your glean-able plants center stage, planted for maximum aesthetic value, “hidden in plain sight” as we like to say.
  • Incorporate signs that invite people to glean, without drawing attention to the fact that poverty may be one reason people do choose to glean.
  • Incorporate signs that provide guidelines for gleaning so that people feel welcome to pick what they need or want for personal or family use, but do not overpick such that they deprive others of the opportunity of the opportunity to glean what they need or want, or threaten the health or reproductive abilities of the plants themselves.
  • Label the various kinds of plants with their names, as well as suggestions for use.
  • Hold plant recognition and use events. Harvest festivals and cooking challenges can be fun!
  • Create a culture of gleaning in the congregation. ┬áThat is, encourage all members of the church to glean, not just the poor. ┬áBy doing so, congregations may not only avoid people being embarrassed to glean by the stigma often attached to poverty, but also encourage all members to live more environmentally conscious, sustainable, and healthy lifestyles.

About the Author

Our Executive Director, Stu Richardson, is a former teacher with 25 years in K-12 classrooms. Currently an MDiv. student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Stu has an M.Ed from Chapman University and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. Outside of work, Stu is a beekeeper with 30 hives of his own set in an organic herb garden. He uses a Worksman Low-Gravity Platform Bike with Extra-Cycle Freetail and a 6 foot Bike-to-Work Trailer for most local errands.