Ventura County's Support-Local Program

Gleaning’s Roots Run Deep

Gleaning is the ancient practice of collecting the remaining crop from the field after it has been harvested. Here’s the story of how I recently gleaned my ranch.

Gleaning is the ancient practice of collecting the remaining crop from the field after it has been harvested. You will find gleaning mentioned in the Bible as well as in Hebrew law. The French even have a five-hundred-year-old law that that commanded French farmers to allow for the practice of gleaning by the poor in their fields, orchards and vineyards. Charities all over the world continue to use gleaning practices to help supply much-needed food to people in need.

A branch feeds a family, a tree feeds a neighborhood.

2016-10-gleaning-basketsVentura County’s FOOD Share, whose gleaning program might seem like a newer chapter in the history of this ancient practice, actually used gleaning as one of the main sources of food they distributed when they first started out. FOOD Share went on to build a strong organization that now distributes millions of pounds of much-needed healthy food every year. Over the past three years they have collectively harvested over 1/2 million pounds of produce from backyards and farms with their Gleaning Program.

Ventura County is home to just under 1 million people. That means that there are over 233,000 backyard, front yards, side yards, orchards, hillsides, fields and plains that have food growing on them that can be harvested. They need your help if we are going to try and harvest all of the unwanted or unneeded crops in Ventura County.

The Wicked Wire Ranch U-Pick, U-Help

2016-10-gleaning-guyRecently I decided to host a U-Pick, U-Help at the Wicked Wire Ranch. Several friends gathered on a hot Saturday afternoon to glean several of the avocado trees on the ranch. We picked, chatted and cheered each other on. It really was a great experience and ended up being a great way to catch up with friends. A few hours later, 10 bins were brimming with beautiful green avocados. Everyone got to take a bag of avocados home; we helped our community and the ranch. Without gleaning, the avocados would have ripened and fallen off creating a rodent problem for the ranch. The FOOD Share team arrived promptly on Monday morning to pick-up the bins and the avocados were on their way to appreciative families.

Through the efforts of few, we can help many.

Kat Merrick, Totally Local VC founder

Need Gleaning?

FOOD Share needs your help – if you have one tree or a hundred – they can bring a gleaning crew of volunteers in for a pick. Want to host a picking party with your friends? Just give FOOD Share a call. They will drop off the bins and pick them up when you are done. Or, why not volunteer?! They are always looking for a few more hands to help get the job done.

These are just some of ways to help give back to your community.

More information about gleaning

For more information or to schedule a gleaning, call (805) 983-7100, ext. 138 or go to

Sources: Gleaning the World,,, FOOD Share
Image credits: Kat Merrick

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Learn more about author Kat Merrick

Kat Merrick

About the author

Kat Merrick made her mark in the apparel world as an innovative leader and founder of Surf Chick Inc. With over 25 years of extensive experience managing worldwide capacity apparel facilities, companies and product, her superior leadership skills, practiced in directing cross-functional global teams to design, brand, source develop and marketing, won her world-wide recognition and awards. She is considered an expert in the areas of trend studies, brand building and marketing. At 23 years old she opened her first successful retail business in Ventura County, Since then, Kat has owned and operated several very successful retail and wholesale operations and assisted numerous multi-category small businesses to achieve success. Highly respected by many local small business owners, growers, artists and locals, she has been tagged as "the Shop Local girl". Kat's extensive travels, strong business knowledge and desire to make a positive impact locally helped inspire her to create Totally Local VC. A Ventura County resident since 1978, single mother of two and long-standing advocate for support of local small business and all that is Ventura, founder and developer of Totally Local VC, Kat brings her passion for our community to all she does. Her writings, posts and blog reflect her love of family, friends and community and desire to help.


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