Once upon a time in a galaxy not so far away, there lived a superhero. Her name was Ruth.

The Book of Ruth is about love, loyalty and acceptance. Ruth stood strong in the shadow of the reapers in the fields where strawberries and blueberries and melons and grapes and spinach and kale and tomatoes and carrots and quinoa grow. Ruth stood strong in the shadow of the reapers who came to clear those fields and the harvest of gold and green and red and white and blue and yummy spicy black mustard, whose seed might be the smallest of all.

And there stood Ruth strong and tall, but in the shadow of the reapers so as not to be seen while she gleaned the field of what got left behind. And then the landlord saw her and this is how the story begins to end. The Lord of the land said, do not be afraid, do not hide, please go ahead and glean and share. 

So there really is a rainbow of fresh food for all. Come to the farm to glean and share and you will see.

The seeds for gleaning in southwest Ohio were planted in February 2018. Two farms and several Glean & Share teams participated in a pilot project in the spring and summer of 2018 with funding provided through a “Cincy Save the Food Fund” grant from Green Umbrella.

The Gleaning Network program of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) sprinkled some fresh water on the seeds in April 2019 and agreed to help support ten more Glean & Share events in southwest Ohio. This author agreed to be a volunteer Hunger Relief Advocate for the Society of St. Andrew and will coordinate gleaning and seek sustainable funding in southern Ohio.

Farmer Samantha Gordon (middle) with two volunteers from La Soupe gleaned blueberries at Gordon Farm.

We kicked off the 2019 season in early July with a two+ hour gleaning at the Gordon Farm in New Richmond, OH (Clermont County). Volunteers from La Soupe, SoSA and farm owners Samantha and Scott Gordon harvested 28 pounds of fresh, bright blueberries that were shared with La Soupe and its partner network. We are grateful to the Gordons for their contribution to the endhunger.org movement. We invite you to learn more about them at Bee Haven Honey (www.beehavenhoney.com) and The Chocolate Bee (www.chocolatebeecincy.com) and support their important work.

We are also grateful for the Our Harvest Cooperative. Our Harvest allowed us to glean six times at their Bahr Farm in College Hill (Cincinnati) in 2018. They intend to schedule gleaning of tomatoes, squash, chard, and potatoes as the late summer and fall of 2019 unfold. The first event was in early August with volunteers from Working in Neighborhoods (WIN in South Cumminsville), SoSA and La Soupe.

We have also taken small steps to expand the Glean & Share program with other farms, volunteer groups, faith traditions and food destinations (recipients) in other counties in southwest Ohio. Two events were scheduled for August at Indian Springs Berry Farm (blackberries in Butler County) and Once in a Blue Moon Farm (blueberries on the border of Warren and Greene Counties). Stay tuned to Connections to learn more about the rest of the story.

Mike Eck is a Food Justice Advocate and is actively involved in the local organic food movement in southwest Ohio. Mike and his wife, Denise, are members of Christ Church, Glendale.