What is “gleaning”?  Gleaning is an invention of God Himself.

22 When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23)

God commanded his people to be intentionally inefficient in their harvesting to provide for the poor. Gleaning was to be an act of compassion.

21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 22 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt… (Deuteronomy 24)

While it seems improbable in today’s technological society, gleaning still occurs.  The Gleaning Network UK has volunteers who go to commercial farms and glean and collect food for the poor.  This organisation, between 2012 and 2016, gleaned 288 tonnes of produce – equal to more than 3 million portions of fruit and veg across 154 gleaning days.

Gleaning occurs even in Australia!  OzHarvest is a food-rescue organisation which collects quality excess food from commercial outlets and delivers it directly to more than 1000 charities.  This mob rescues over 100 tonnes of food each week.

While these modern gleaners are doing excellent work for the poor, their gleaning is different to Biblical gleaning.  Biblical gleaning is about sharing our daily bread with those in need around us.  Gleaning is about sharing in a way that both feeds and empowers others.  Gleaning is done in the confidence that God gives us our daily bread.

Denis Oliver