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By definition, gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.

It’s what we were doing last Tuesday on our food bank gardens. Almost everything is gone. Except for some greens. There was still enough out there to do one more harvest.

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I called what we got from the collards, baby collard greens on the label on the bag. We still got a large blue recycling bag full of collards from these long producing plants.

As for the rainbow chard,

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you could still find lovely baby chard nestled between the stems of the past harvests.

And, that Russian kale.

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Before we pulled the plants out of the ground, we found quite a bit of it to harvest.

Beets and carrots.

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What we couldn’t get for the food bank, like bundles of carrot tops, we used to feed the goats at the Conservancy. It seems they love carrot tops. We did get a good harvest of baby beets and beet greens.

Last act before leaving, pulling those immature cabbages, for anyone who wanted to make cabbage soup. Not big enough to use, but yet edible, these little morsels would make a tasty treat.

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We have learned much from our food bank harvesting. We know what can be used, and what is just too messed up, or tiny, or “weird” to use. I get it. People in our CSA won’t take strange vegetables that are harder to cook. A handful of cabbage leaves isn’t enough to donate, so they either go to waste, or we find a volunteer willing to use them.

Next year, our plots will be planted with varieties that are easily cooked or processed. Exotic vegetables aren’t the way to go, nor are plants that don’t provide a prolific harvest. A handful of something isn’t useful. We need to be harvesting bags full.

About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

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