I just heard a guy on the radio interviewing a local gleaner, a woman who picks up fennel bulbs out in the fields of Castroville. I know there are people (including myself) who forage for various items in the woods and lots around here. But I know little about gleaners, although, of course, this is the perfect area for that activity.
According to the California Story Fund:
“Unlike in Europe, where gleaning is considered a right, gleaning in California requires the cooperation of field owners. While illegal gleaning occurs, most of the gleaning in Salinas Valley is done in cooperation with large growers, who also distribute over 10 million pounds of surplus crops to food banks and other programs.
The gleaners come from communities throughout Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Some work with church groups, some work with labor groups, some are high school students, some are elders, some speak only Spanish.”
The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas is having an event today, “The Gleaners: A Harvest of Stories,” 2–4 pm. I’m going. See you there?