Corn picking fun!

Going to meet a group of strangers can sometimes be a bit unnerving, but there is something about volunteering that breaks the ice. Everyone has something to do and a common purpose. Ever since I heard about the gleaning network some time ago, I have wanted to go and help, but I wasn’t able to because I had my 4 year old at home.  He has started school now though and a couple of weeks ago I set off to join a group of strangers in a field to pick some corn!

The gleaning network is made up of volunteers who go to farms at the end of the season and glean fruit and veg which would otherwise go to waste on the fields.  The fruit and veg is then redistributed to charities.

The reasons why food would go to waste on farms are varied, but the farmer on the farm we went to a couple of weeks ago explained that supermarkets have specialist software which processes all kinds of information about customers and environmental factors and it gives them a very good idea of how much fruit or veg to order from the farmers to stop them from over ordering. Unfortunately the farmers don’t know what the supermarkets will order when they are sowing their crops and have to do a bit of guesswork.

There were over 20 volunteers joining in the corn picking fun the other day and between us we managed to save a staggering 2.5 tonnes of sweetcorn (approx), which is 31,250 portions of sweetcorn!  The corn got donated via the London and Brighton branches of Fareshare, Community Food Enterprises and Food For All to various charities.

It was a fun day.  I really enjoyed all the fresh air and found corn picking quite relaxing. People were friendly and we sat down to a communal lunch having all brought something to share.  I learned a few things about picking corn, like exactly how to break the stalk so that some of the outer leaves of the corn come off.  The trick is to not take too many of the leaves off as once they come off the corn starts to dry out.  We were encouraged to try the sweetcorn raw and it tasted delicious.

I took some sweetcorn home with me for myself and gave several away. I was going to put some on my foodsharing group (read more here), but never quite got that far as I managed to give quite a few away on the school run!  At home that evening we enjoyed some seriously yummy corn on the cob (very well earned I think) and I also cooked some more corn on the cob, which I cut off the cob and froze for later use.  We had some of the frozen corn last night and it was still incredibly tasty.  I will definitely be doing that again next year when corn is in season!

If you are interested in finding out more about the gleaning network or want to volunteer to help them, then get in touch by either emailing vera@feeding5k.org (Sussex gleaning) or martin@feeding5k.org (UK gleaning) or filling out this online form here.

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