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Why Does the Society of St. Andrew Glean Food from Farms?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Listen Here!

Food waste and hunger are not new issues. ReFED estimates that 14% of wasted food happened on farms in 2021. Sue Plumber, Program Coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew coordinates volunteers to glean fields in Southwest Ohio. What is gleaning? “Gleaning is a term with roots in the Hebrew Bible. It was part of Jewish law that farmers should leave the corners of their fields for the widowed and the orphaned of that era. And that translates into contemporary times as we work with farmers to get any food that's not going to make it to market, that is still good food, and rerouted to hunger relief organizations.”

Basically, gleaning is rescuing food that would otherwise not be eaten from farm fields or farmer’s markets. So, why should people in Hamilton County join efforts to glean more food from farms? First Sue reminds us, “Farmers have so many uncertainties in their work, there's an unavoidable amount of food waste that will happen on farms. And it's some of the best food, some of the freshest, healthiest food that you can get, even though it wasn't going to go to the market, it could have some minor blemishes. It might be beautiful stuff; they just have too much of it.”

Another important reason, “It’s a powerful experience to get on to the farm and glean, it's fun to be out there, it’s a very social experience.”

How can someone become a gleaner? “It's pretty easy to sign up. You can go to and there will be a button to click on to register as a volunteer and that will put you on our current volunteer platform. One thing I should say about gleanings is farmers can't say you can come on Tuesdays, or you can come next month. A couple of days to a week is all the notice we get and then we have to work really hard to get the word out.” The Society of St. Andrew also has opportunities to glean from local farmers markets, those opportunities are more consistent.

For more opportunities to access local food or volunteer with a hunger relief organization visit!

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Sue's Favorite Crunchy Beet and Kohlrabi Slaw (from The Forked Spoon)


  • 1 large kohlrabi - peeled and finely shredded

  • 2 medium raw beets - peeled and finely shredded

  • 1 large apple - cored and cut into thin matchsticks (I had a Fiji apple on hand, but suggest using a Pink Lady apple or similar)

  • 2 tbsp. parsley - minced

  • 2 green onions - chopped

  • 1 orange - juiced

  • 1 orange- zested

  • 1 lime - juiced

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • salt + pepper - to taste

  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds

  • Feta Cheese - omit for vegan/dairy-free


  1. Place the shredded kohlrabi, shredded beets, chopped apple, parsley, and green onion in a large salad bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the orange zest, the orange and lime juice, olive oil, and salt + pepper. Gently drizzle citrus dressing over the salad and toss to mix.

  2. Sprinkle the salad with toasted sunflower seeds and crumbled feta cheese (if desired).


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