New Brunswick

Volunteers pick Fredericton fields clean for food charity

New Brunswick farm fields are getting picked clean this season, after they've already been harvested.

Gleaners go over farmers' fields to collect food left behind and distribute it to those in need

Volunteers have been going over farmer's fields after they have already been harvested to pick up the leftovers to redistribute to food banks. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

A volunteer group, known as gleaners, are hand picking the leftovers in New Brunswick fields to make the most of food that is available and give some to local charities. 

"It's a chance to redirect food that would go to waste and putting it into the hands of people that could really benefit from having access to free food," said Susanne White, who has been gleaning for two seasons. 

"We're following the practice of most other gleaning operations."

She said a third of what is picked goes to the volunteers, another third goes back to the owners of the farm and the remaining third gets donated.

Blueberry bushes at McKinney's U-Pick were the latest to be gleaned with the owners opting to give their share to charity. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
White is with Good Food Greater Fredericton, a group made up of a network of communities focused on local food. 

Members include the National Farmers Union, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and a variety of individual volunteers. 

White says dividing up food three ways is the traditional method, but local farmers are normally much more generous.

"In reality it's about half and half," said White.

"Because a lot of the owners just say take what you can get and give it to a good cause." 

So far gleaners this year have re-harvested peach trees, tomatoes, blueberries and various other fruits and vegetables from fields around the Fredericton area.

Susanne White, with the volunteer group Good Food Greater Fredericton, has been gleaning fields for two years. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
The process relies on the permission from farmers before any food can be collected. 

Catherine McKinney, a farmer at McKinney's U-Pick, said she supports the project.

"I just think that if you can help somebody, you should," said McKinney.

"We have lots of fruit and that leftover, so instead of that going to waste at least somebody can use it." 

White is hoping the more farmers hear about gleaning, the more invitations they will receive to glean their fields.  

"We've already had invites this season," said White.

"We'd love to have more."

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.