What is Gleaning?
In Kent as in the rest of the UK, surplus fresh produce is left in the field post-harvest or not harvested due to staff, quality or price constraints. Nationally, pre-farm gate food waste has been estimated to be 1.6 million tonnes annually.
Gleaning is the process of picking this surplus food and veg from farms that would otherwise go to waste, and redistributing it to those who need it.
Why is Gleaning particularly relevant now?
The cost-of-living crisis has increased the pressure on food banks and food redistribution organisations with many not including fresh produce in their offer. Food offered to those who need it is often just ambient and not always healthy.
Many students have expressed their concern about the increased cost-of-living, and Kent Union has seen an increase in the number of students accessing Campus Pantry, our on-campus food bank.
Farmers in Kent are keen to work more closely with the community, sharing the realities of farming but also promoting work opportunities in the agri sector.
How can I get involved?
With all this in mind, membership organisation for local food and drink businesses, Produced in Kent, and the University of Kent have decided to set up a gleaning group with student and staff volunteers from the university. The gleaning group will work together with growers in Kent, picking surplus fresh produce left on the fields, and redistributing this to charities, community groups and food banks in the Canterbury area.