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This gleaning life

Gleaning is collecting or gathering producing that is left by others.

In olden days country woman were often gleaners – they followed the harvesters and picked up fallen discard grain, potatoes, turnips or other crops. Tufts of wool would be picked some fences and branches and kept for spinning and weaving or stuffing mattress.

In western countries, modern farming methods have wiped out this practice although I’m sure it still is a way of life for many woman in third world country, slowing collecting bits and pieces, making sure nothing is wasted.

These days we are encouraged to love food and hate waste so I think gleaning is a practice we can all embrace. Dumpster diving is a rather radical way of gleaning and I am informed by various young people in the city a great way of eking out your student allowance (or sadly keeping you alive if you are a homeless person).

Living as I do in the Lockyer Valley, the self-named food bowl, I have plenty of opportunities to glean. I use funny food that the supermarkets won’t buy. I pick unused fruit from backyard fruit trees. The medieval woman would have gleaned as part of her daily life – always on the look out. As I go about my daily life I am on the look out for new food opportunities to. Fortunately for me this is a joy and not a necessity.

Recently at book club I was offered a gleaning opportunity – mangoes! So I went on a beautiful country drive to the outskirts of rural Laidley and started fruit picking. I have to tell you that fruit picking is a joy. Ok – maybe not if you have to do it morning to night, day in day out of the fruit season. A couple of hours fruit picking every week of so is a joy. When I pick fruit, I am usually alone with my thoughts and my fellow fruit pickers – the birds.


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