Celtic Life International

Gleaning Cornwall Network


Agroup of Cornish volunteers are reviving a centuries-old practice to help fight poverty. The practice, known as gleaning, involves “rescuing” abandoned crops that would otherwise go to waste. Founded by Holly Whitelaw, Gleaning Cornwall Network collects and takes these crops – which have been leftover from harvest – to places such as food banks and homeless shelters across Cornwall and Plymouth. This both benefits low-income people and reduces food waste. According to an article by Sky News, gleaning was common up until the 18th century, when a court case ruled in favour of private property rights. “Sometimes it is uneconomic to harvest all the vegetables or fruit, there may be a glut, the market might change, and some are just not up to supermarke­t standards being wonky, too big or too small. Also, farmers have to ensure they have enough produce and have to over produce in case of pest, disease, flooding or drought,” Holly Whitelaw explains on the Gleaning Cornwall website. What's more, the existing challenges of farming have been exacerbate­d by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It's a win, win operation. Farmers reduce waste and people suffering with lack of fresh, healthy food get some.” After a successful crowdfundi­ng campaign in December, Gleaning Cornwall began looking to obtain two 4×4 vehicles and trailers. This will help volunteers navigate muddy fields and access even more vegetables than before. In addition, the group hopes to expand its reach to North Cornwall this year.

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