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by intern Minal Gill

Aletha Soule of Slow Food Sonoma County has taken supporting good, clean and fair practices one step further by making fresh produce available to those in need. Her network Slow Harvest took up the sizable task of gleaning local produce and transporting it to local food banks. “Gleaning” refers to gathering leftover crops after they’ve been commercially harvested. It’s done in order to recover food that would otherwise go to waste due to over-abundance, surface blemishes or time constraints.

Slow Harvest first began the project at Nathan Boone’s First Light Farms with a team of volunteer gleaners. The effort involved collecting surplus food from the farm, weighing, packaging and bringing it to Food for Thought Foodbank, Forestville.

And these gleaners don’t just hand over the raw product – they’re preserving food as well! Their first community canning session involved an abundance of Gravenstein apples, a Slow Food Presidia product. Similarly, Relish Culinary Adventures, Healdsburg, CA hosted another session in their kitchen to can surplus tomatoes. Each volunteer contributed two cases of canning jars, which was their price of admission. They spent the day turning in jars of tomato sauce for the Healdsburg Food Pantry, CA.

Click here for the complete video on Slow Food Sonoma County’s gleaning initiatives and scroll down to “Gleaning, Slowharvest Style”