Monday, May 20, 2013

Gleanings, Screenings and Cleanings

Do you live near any commercial agriculture -- not necessarily the huge agribusiness, but family farms that use machinery or seasonal work crews for their major harvest?  If so, there may be a low cost opportunity there for food items that might otherwise go to waste. It will take some work on your part, but if you have more spare time than money, it will be a bargain.

Easiest is fruit gleaning, and the time for apricots is fast approaching. If you have a neighbor or acquaintance with orchards, you may want to approach them with a deal.  You will provide back to them either dried fruit or preserves ( be specific based on what you already plan to do with the fruit) in exchange for the opportunity to glean. Consider also offering that if they show you the fruit they harvest, you will only pick that which is too ripe for their use, or any that you find on the ground. If you make this deal, you must be scrupulous not to violate or hedge on the deal. Under-ripe fruit, even from the ground, can be used in canning. Cut away bad spots, wash and treat with the remainder of the fruit.  It is usually under-ripe and will add tartness to your product. Do not pick under-ripe fruit from the trees without specific permission, as otherwise it will ripen in a few days and be crop for the owner.

Similar gleaning opportunities may be available for other crops, but you must be respectful and take only a small number of people, like four or fewer, onto the owner's property. Leave it better than you found it and give something back to the owner. They may need to charge you a small fee for insurance purposes. Do the math to decide if it works for your needs and budget.

Another potential source of free produce is from grain and seed operations. I have a friend who picks up the screenings from a pea and bean storage operation. When the product is sold as whole peas or beans, it gets screened to remove the broken produce, small rocks and weed seed. That's basically what is in the screenings, with most of it being the broken seeds and beans. My friend uses it as-is to supplement his cattle feed.  I took a look at the stuff and discovered that with a little work, it's a beautiful bean soup mix. It had broken or under-sized chick peas, yellow and green split peas, lentils and barley along with some pebbles, grass and mystery seeds.

Anything like this near you? Do your research but ask in person, if possible. There's a lot to be gained!

Update: Here's another type of gleaning, but a bit more specialized....

1 comment:

  1. I have gleaned before from the garden and scuppernong. But, I have to find out if there is something like that around here. Good idea!