Our friend and Advisory Board member, Marla Emery, brought this story about the growing popularity of gleaning to our attention.
There is a concept in Judaism called bal tashkhit, translated as: you shall not wantonly destroy; or you shall not waste. It is based on a law about ethical war-making in the Bible (Deuteronomy 20:19–20) which says that even in the midst of a siege, you are not allowed to destroy fruit trees. Nature, the Bible teaches in its own way, is not a combatant, not a pawn to be intentionally destroyed in a siege, not allowed to be treated as fair game for destruction for short-term tactical gain.
In its own poetic language, the Bible asks: Is the tree of the field a man? Is it able to run from your siege, or defend itself against you?
The lesson seems to be two-fold: do not use your great advantage of power and might and mobility to destroy that which is defenseless before you. And be humble in what you perceive as your “needs.”
The rabbis of old took this one step further and said this law teaches that nothing shall be unnecessarily destroyed, and nothing wasted.
Gleaning is part of this tradition: even that which is, now, left behind (that is, the crops that are too hard for the machines to pick, or too puny or too “blemished” to be sold in our supermarkets, or the fruit that is dropping in excess on our home yards), shall not be allowed to go waste. Especially in a world increasingly faced with pockets of great need.
And so, across the country, people are responding to this call to gather the abundance here (ie, “waste”) and give it to those who need there. We – the Baltimore Orchard Project – are proud to be a part of this movement.
And we need you to make it happen here in Baltimore. This fall will be our first gleaning harvest. Please click on our Get Involved button and sign up to help.
We are eager to have you join the harvest.