top of page
What is Gleaning?

Gleaning is a centuries old practice that at its root is the gathering of any excess crops after a farmer has completed a harvest. In Maine and other areas where gleaning has become part of current-day food systems, this can mean many things. Maine Gleaning Network groups harvest from farmer’s fields when there are bumper crops or new successions of plantings to move to, often top quality produce; at the end of a farmers market day; from institutions with extra prepared food items; from farms that grow all or sections of their fields specifically for donation; and from home gardeners with bounty to share. 

In all these ways, food that would otherwise go to waste for many different reasons, gets redirected towards those that can use it. Gleaning groups fill the gap of labor needed to collect and distribute these foods, often to locations close to where people live and work - food pantries, as well as libraries, housing sites, and other community spaces - to get food to as many places as it is needed.


Most and sometimes all of the gleaning process is completed by volunteers! Gleaners meet new folks from their community, spend time in the sun, and get good food to their neighbors. Think volunteering with a gleaning group could be right for you? Check out the Network page to contact a group near you, or reach out directly for us to connect you with an effort.

bottom of page