Feed the Hungry: Go Gleaning!

What is gleaning?

Gleaning is simply the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need.

What are the benefits?
Prevents the unnecessary wasting of quality food.
Provides access to fresh, nutritious foods for low-income populations, who are often unable to buy healthy, local foods because of cost or availability.
Provides resources to nonprofit agencies, many of whom have shrinking staff capacity and budgets due to the economic climate, so that they might better serve those in need.
Builds good relations between community members, local gardeners, and farmers.

What will I be doing?

In-field gleaning involves walking in the field/orchard picking fruits and vegetables that the commercial harvesters left behind typically because they did not meet their product quality standards. For example, in the case of cabbages, a gleaner would use a knife to cut the cabbage at the stalk. The cabbages are collected and placed in large bags which are left in the field for our partner organizations to pick-up.

In the warehouse, gleaning involves picking, sorting and re-packaging the produce that is delivered to the warehouse.

More information about gleaning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfGSj_eiy7w  Gleaning Program Gives Back. Virginia Farm Bureau, St Andrews

2015 Locations – examples of locations in the Washington D.C. area. Note that gleaning at these farms must be arranged through the Mid-Atlantic Gleaning Network (MAGNET). Contact MAGNET for details.

  • Miller farm – 1040 Piscataway Rd Clinton, MD 20735
  • Eagle Tree/Parker farm – 754 Leedstown Rd Colonial Beach, VA 22443
  • First  Fruit Farms  – 2025 Freeland Rd Freeland, MD 21053
  • City Orchard – Beltsville, MD

What should I wear?

In-Field Gleaning

·         Wear long pants, no shorts, as there may be tall weeds throughout the field

·         Wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt

·         Bring gloves (heavy duty latex or vinyl recommended)

·         Consider wearing a hat with a bib or brim

·         Wear sunglass or shades during gleaning

·         Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting soiled

·         Use sun screen on exposed areas prior to gleaning

·         Bring cold drinks, snacks or other refreshments

·         Note: please be advised that portable restrooms are usually the only available restrooms on site

 Warehouse Gleaning

·         Wear long pants; shorts are okay, but beware exposed areas might come in contact with debris

·         Wear a lightweight short or long sleeve shirt

·         Bring gloves (heavy duty latex or vinyl recommended)

·         Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting soiled

·         Bring cold drinks, snacks or other refreshments

·         Check on the availability of restrooms at the location as well as nearby.

Magnet Warehouse – 11701 Crain Highway, Cheltenham, MD 20623

7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. daily, unless otherwise stated


Capital Area Food Bankhttp://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/volunteer/

Visit the calendar on the Capital Area Food Bank website.  You can sign up to volunteer on the calendar by clicking the volunteer now link. From the volunteer page, you will be able to click and view details on gleaning opportunities. 

Regardless of where you live, you can probably find a local farm that relies on volunteers to glean. The Society of St. Andrews is a good starting point.

Gleaning is an excellent way for children to learn where there food comes from and to appreciate how much work is involved in growing and harvesting it. Older kids can earn community service hour credit for school. Above all, it’s a nice way for families to spend time together doing something meaningful for others!

While you are gleaning, you can multiply the amount of produce that you’ve collected so that it feeds the entire world. You can bless the corn, the cabbages, the apples with mantras, you can transform it all into the nectar of wisdom and offer it to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the ten directions.


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