Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gleaning Networks

Following on from the previous post about how our food system is failing and in the wake of the political row over the Labour Party U-Turn on banning food waste from landfill we have this:

Glean: ɡliːn/ verb
gerund or present participle: gleaning
1. obtain (information) from various sources, often with difficulty.
"the information is gleaned from press cuttings"
2. historical gather (leftover grain) after a harvest.
"the conditions of farm workers in the 1890s made gleaning essential"

Note the historical context.

The recycling industry is none too pleased with Labour and for that matter the government:
Organic waste recyclers have slammed the Labour Party’s decision not to include a landfill ban on food waste in its election manifesto, calling on all politicians in England to recognise its potential benefits.
Organisations including the Renewable Energy Association (REA) criticised politicians both in the Labour Party and the current government for their lack of foresight on bans – which they claimed would become essential in light of depleting landfill capacity.
The Labour Party has denied the U-turn – stating a landfill ban on food waste was never agreed as policy.
The comments came as the Labour Party debunked claims made by the Conservative Party this week that it intended to implement a food waste ban to landfill at a projected cost of £477 million.
The point is that it won’t cost a penny if we don’t waste it in the first place.

According to Love Food Hate Waste, over 7 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year. There are many ways that each one of us can reduce food waste from only buying what you know you'll use to reducing the amount of food you cook for each meal. We can all reduce our individual food waste, but food waste occurs even before our food even reaches the supermarket. A lot of food is wasted on the farm level, which is why the Gleaning Network UK is looking for volunteers who want to help change that.

(Fresh fruit and vegetables make up 21% of food waste in the UK)
Gleaning Network UK is fast expanding to become a national project. From our start in 2012 to the end of 2014, the Gleaning Network already gleaned over 110 tonnes of produce, equal to well over 1 million portions of fruit and veg, with over 500 volunteers across 56 gleaning days. New hubs sprung up in Manchester, Bristol, Sussex, East England (Cambs, S Lincs and Norfolk), London and Kent. Apples, pears, plums, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbages, lettuces, pumpkins and parsnips are just some of the produce already gleaned. On one gleaning day alone on 9th November 2013, over 11 tonnes of pumpkins were saved from waste on a farm in Southampton. In 2015, we plan to do even more – we’ll be expanding to new hubs around the UK, and ramping up our campaign to end food waste on farms!
The Gleaning Network saves produce that would otherwise go to waste and uses it to provide healthy food to people in need. The volunteer form can be found here.

Hat tip: Organic Ilford


  1. OK if you live in a flat composting at home isn’t easy but if you have any sort of garden then there really is no excuse for not recycling your food waste at home. It does need an enclosed bin (the Council sell them cheap - or did) with base embedded in a 2-3 inches of soil all round and then start filling. A little shredded paper added regularly , or torn up egg boxes, helsp make a less soggy interior. Fishing tackle shops sell brandling worms - buy at least two boxes - to feed on the waste and turn it into decent compost. It works and after a while you’ll treat the worms as pets and give them names like Wilbur and Wilberforce and Willy and Wilhelmina. Sorry , got carried away there , but composting at home works and avoids sending waste to landfill (on which we all pay tax by the way) . Worm compost is good for gardens too.

  2. The main cause of food waste in the supply chain is the requirement by the supermarkets for fruit and vegetables of uniform size and shape and totally without blemish.This results in not only the destruction of that part of the crop which does not meet the criteria but also the widespread use of inorganic chemicals and pesticides. If challenged, they will say that this is what their customers want. We need to state loud and clear that we are happy to accept small and large, straight and bent, perfect and imperfect. To quote the amazingly foresighted Joni Mitchell in the 1970's - 'Hey Mr. Farmer, put away the DDT's. Give me spots on apples, leave me the birds and the bees.'

  3. Very interesting, thank-you. I find brown cardboard goes really well in compost, bulks it up very usefully and the worms love it. Shops seem to throw away vast quantities of cardboard from deliveries. How much of that goes to waste in landfill too I wonder? Why waste it? Not when I get get hold of it! By composting almost all that carbon in the cardboard is fixed into soil mass - now I have 5 daleks in my urban garden, and when the compost is maturing you can finish it off by growing stuff out of the top. A full size courgette plant and a trailing squash plant fitted together very nicely all in one bin last summer, yielding generously. I've never found I need to buy worms, they always come to me ... looking hungry ... and I fatten them up on cardboard and kitchen waste ;-)

    On that note, may I wish a Happy and Fertile New Year to all at B21.

    1. Likewise to you Atween, you are missed from the blogosphere.
      Like you my worms appear like magic and they seem to like a bit of brown stuff (cardboard).

    2. Thanks B, I'm still around when I can, reading and commenting, except the Googleborg is a deterrent to committing effort to creating anything in any online format like Blogger and Youtube because the Gborg can simply sweep everything away at the corporate whim and leave you with nothing! There's so much to do in the real world anyway where it's less dependent on one single controlling entity.

      I'm certainly more active than ever offline in my local area.

      Talking of which, have you come across Streetlife?


      It's an online tool that's extremely useful for organising and publicising events and activities involving the whole community, once you can get a critical mass of people joining in an area.

      Have fun!

    3. I did try Streetlife but wasn't impressed. They actually deleted one of my events so I cancelled my account. I may give it another go later.

    4. Oh dear, what a shame! I'm finding it tremendously useful.

      I had a look at Redbridge and there are nearly a thousand people on there in that area, which should see things getting going a bit.


      This conversation (link below) looked interesting, promising at least rather than the usual "does anyone know a good plumber?" stuff, which has it's uses but gets very dull if that's all there is. We're lucky where I am because ther's quite a few people who want to do community stuff.


      I'm very surprised they deleted an event. I've had no problems actually organising an entire event online and then going on to promote it on the site, so can't imagine why they would delete it. I know lots of people seem to have trouble navigating the site at first, so could it have gone missing? Did you ask them what happened? Or could it have been that they thought it was a for-profit event? They charge for those I gather, but my events are always free so that's no problem.

    5. Thanks, I have enough people moaning and groaning about the new town square in person without getting it on Streetlife too.

    6. LOL ... still you could promote things like your Glasbury House petition to a wider audience, even wider than the B21 Blog (could that be??? :-))

      Oh well, never mind.

      All the best from over here.

  4. "Note the historical context".

    Yes, the principle was established well before the 1890s:

    “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. "