Free For All

24 Nov 2008

At a 600-acre farm in Platteville, Colorado, an astonishing 40,000 people from around the USA turned up this weekend ready to partake in the ancient practice of gleaning – the act of collecting leftover crops from farm fields following the harvest.

Joe and Chris Miller, the farm owners, had invited people from neighbouring communities to come and take home the remaining potatoes, leeks and carrots on their land – expecting between 5,000 to 10,000 people to show up.

When an estimated 11,000 vehicles converged on the farm, 37 miles north of Denver, Chris said, ‘Overwhelmed’ is putting it mildly… People obviously need food’.

The couple decided to open their fields to those suffering hardship and as a thank you to customers after being informed of raids in local churches where food was being stolen.

The farm visitors were so numerous and did such a thorough job of cleaning up the leftover vegetables on the Saturday, that the second day of gleaning had to be cancelled.

The age-old practice of gleaning is also featured in Agnès Varda’s film The Gleaners and I (2000), focusing on the many aspects of gleaning and people who practice this tradition in order to survive.

The Washington Post

Victoria Blackshaw

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