The following was written by Austin Morin, a Field Gleaning group leader from Key Club at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh. Hi, I’m Austin Morin, and I coordinate a group of students from the Ravenscroft School Key Club to go field gleaning about every 3 months. I have done this since fall of 2012, and I have fallen in love with gleaning!
The very first time I ever heard the word gleaning was in my 9th grade World History class. We were looking at an oil painting of 2 women picking up individual pieces of wheat. I remember thinking - what a great way to use up food that would otherwise end up going to waste! Coincidentally, that week, during a school-wide meeting, a visitor walked up on stage and announced that a group from Key Club would be getting on to a bus to pick Yams at the annual Yam Jam, run by the Society of St. Andrew. I thought back to the picture in history class and figured it might be fun. I signed up to go on my first gleaning.
The following year the position to coordinate field gleaning trips opened up in Key Club, and I took it, hoping to add something to my transcript and certainly not knowing what I was getting myself into. I planned our first gleaning trip to harvest sweet potatoes, and only 4 other sophomores showed up. Even worse, I was the only guy! The bus ride took an hour, and when we got to the field, it was over flowing with potatoes. They were everywhere! Our field coordinator explained to us how to pull out potatoes from the earth and put them into bags. It turned out to be a really fun time, and the five of us formed a "super glean team."
We bagged many wheel barrows full of potatoes and even got to keep a couple for ourselves! On the drive home I asked Mrs. Thrash (our Key Club sponsor) how many times we go gleaning a year. She said two. I was sad because I wanted to go again and open other people's eyes to the importance of gleaning and how fulfilling it is to be on a farm saving local, fresh produce for people in need. So I asked her if we could take more people and do more gleanings, and she said, "why not?" Well, that was all I needed to hear! I quickly made a ton of announcements, sent out e-mails, made posters, and begged people to come and glean collards. I ended up gathering 28 students for that gleaning in April – a school record! Since then, we have had about 4 or 5 gleaning trips a year, rather than our original 2. I am now known as the kid who gleans at school, and I couldn’t be more proud!