Member Handbook

Gleaner Rules & Etiquette

Quick list of rules:

  1. Be reliable and on time.
  2. Do not bring others with you, do not sign up for anybody else.
  3. Be aware of all glean details before committing.
  4. Understand not all gleans are for “organic” produce.
  5. Come ready to work: be appropriately attired, no smoking, eating, drinks only in approved containers.
  6. Listen to the glean leader. S/he has final say at a glean.
  7. Be respectful.

Be reliable and on time.

Everybody is excited about free food. It’s a great thing in the community and tons of fun! Gleans are often limited to a certain amount of spots- if you can’t make your spot, someone else in the group might be able to. Gleans are restricted to the number of pickers we think a glean can support. We need each and every picker so that a glean isn’t short-handed. Most landowners are happy to have us do a “Round 2” at their location, but it’s usually better for them and us to finish it in one go.

If a gleaner knows they can’t make a glean time, they should not sign up for the glean, period. They are not to beg the glean leader to delay an entire glean for them, they are not to tell them they’ll find their own way; they are to cancel if they cannot make a glean on time. 5-10 minutes, sure, if an unavoidable accident or delay, that’s reasonable. Premeditated? They know they’re not going to be there on time, it’s terribly rude. 15-20 minutes either way? No- stay home. A habit of any of the above and a gleaner may find the gleans they are approved to go on severely restricted.

The glean leader is responsible for making sure everyone is set up with the rules. Glean leaders don’t get extras- we split evenly on group splits, and on individual splits they only get what they themselves can glean. Their time is volunteered. Their time is wasted when they need to re-orient a late arrival. Late arrivals also make our group look disorganized. Sometimes the re-orientation might get rushed – this is how mistakes and misunderstandings occur.

The glean leader should be providing their cell # on each glean so that gleaners can call them in the event they need to cancel or are lost or running late. There’s never an excuse for simply not showing with no explanation.

Do not bring others, do not sign others up for a glean

Please ask before you bring anybody with you to a glean. If you are cleared for one spot out of 5, please don’t bring your spouse, roommate, kids or anybody else. You signed up for one spot, you get one spot. It is *rarely* appropriate to bring a non-member to a group glean- we need to know that the people who are representing our group on a glean are people who have read and agree to our rules and who are contributing members of our group.

Yes, even your roommate’s uncle’s best friend who is staying with you for the week and is SUPER at picking.

Additional glean members must be pre-approved by the glean leader. It is taking a slot away from someone who has signed up and contributed to the group. Please don’t sign up for all 4 slots when you respond to a glean- we need to give everyone an opportunity to come to a glean and get produce for their families. It is NEVER appropriate to share a glean post or location outside of the group. We assure our donors that we are not sharing or passing out their private information and we need to respect that pact.

You are welcome to carpool with other group members. You are welcome to direct your friends and family to sign up.

We are invited to a property by landowners. We have no control over the gleans we get, and the dates/times are at the landowner’s availability. As a gleaner, we are a guest. Schedule changes are typically not able to be accommodated. Stay the entire time so that our group comes in together and leaves together and can ensure that all splits are done fairly.

We try to specify the hours of the glean in the invitation email. If you have an emergency and need to leave early, speak to the glean leader and split on your way out. If you just don’t feel like staying the entire time, don’t come or clarify whether the time span is optional. If you are consistently leaving early to avoid a group split, your invitations to glean will be restricted. We are tracking people who flake on gleans they sign up to do, and those who bail on them early.

Glean leaders are well within their right to decline allowing someone who has a history of flaky behavior on a glean. We need to have people along who are reliable and trustworthy. Period.

Read the entire email for all glean details.

If any part of a glean is unclear, please feel free to ask. If the glean calls for ladders only, don’t volunteer to come if you don’t have a ladder unless it’s :1 ladder plus extra volunteers.”  If you do not agree with the terms we are given at a glean, or if anything is ambiguous and you feel uncomfortable coming out unless you receive a certain amount of produce out of it, feel free to not respond to the glean. There are no minimums you need to glean per month, so YES- only hit the gleans you want to be/can be at.

If the glean says no kids, this is not negotiable. Regardless of how well behaved your kids are, there are no exceptions. If we need to negotiate glean perimeters in order to fill glean spots, we’ll discuss it with the landowner. Homeowner’s liability is covered by the Good Samaritan law, but even the best-behaved child can get restless, needy, and distracting. It is NEVER appropriate to bring your child anyway and leave him/her in the car.

If the glean is restricted to a certain number, invitations will be sent only to those who RSVP. Sometimes a glean is literally just one tree that won’t support 20 gleaners. ALWAYS RSVP and please be respectful if we tell you a glean is “full.” Please don’t be insistent and make a glean leader uncomfortable or put him/her in an uncomfortable spot. And please don’t just show up- you’re not helping- everyone will go home with a handful of produce instead of a bucket.

Dogs are never appropriate to bring to a glean- even  to leave in your car. You can offer part of your glean on the list in exchange for a babysitter/dogsitter if needed- there is usually someone else in your situation who would love to work with you.

…but is it organic??

Occasionally we have gleaner volunteers who have high concerns about whether the produce we glean is “organic.” These concerns are valid, and some people are far more sensitive than others, but we just cannot make any guarantees.

What is and isn’t “organic” is so widely open for interpretation, it’s hard to have a clear answer. We ask when we set up gleans whether an owner knows if their fruit/produce has been sprayed so that gleaners are aware and know how to treat the food before processing, but the answer is wide open to interpretation. The truth is, most of the time we don’t know. An owner may say “no,” because they are using what they feel is “organic” pesticides, or they may not know because they just acquired a property, or they might not know if their fruit tree is organic because it may have been sprayed at some time in the past. A well-intentioned neighbor may spray someone’s tree for them without their knowledge. Wind could direct pesticide spray from someone’s yard onto a neighboring tree. We’ll post along with the glean details if the owner has this information or knows for sure. Even then, you may assume that what you are gleaning may have come into contact with pesticides or other sprays and treat the fruit accordingly. There are numerous websites dedicated to the treatment of fruits and vegetables to ensure proper cleansing.

The bottom line is, we are grateful for what we receive in whatever condition it arrives in and we will accept any and every glean. If you absolutely must have guaranteed organic produce before you are willing to volunteer to glean a harvest, this group may not be a good fit for you. Our entire crew is volunteering and doing work between paid-work and family responsibilities, fielding emails from members asking us to check and double-check if produce is organic before a volunteer will agree to assist in the glean is impractical at best. Gleans where the fruit available is “certified organic” are extremely rare.

Come prepared and ready to work.

When gleaning, wear appropriate attire: No bikini tops or thongs. You will come into contact with spiders, worms, and possibly stinging insects. There may be thorns, mud or rough terrain. Wear long pants, closed-toe shoes with traction. Long sleeved shirts and jackets are suggested but at your discretion. If children are welcome at a glean, please double-check that their attire is suitable as well.

Bring your own equipment: Bring gloves and clippers if available, pickers or ladders if possible/needed. No boomboxes, ipods, cd players- we must be able to communicate freely. Bring a water bottle and sunscreen. Take care of yourself and know your physical limitations.

Treat owners with respect: Owners get first pick of best of crop. We are guests, this is helpful to us and our community, and we want to keep this going! Let’s make the owners glad we are there. No cursing, spitting, chewing, or smoking. Treat this like a job for which you are being paid in produce. Also, please, PLEASE don’t complain! Nobody wants to have guests who are whiny and ungrateful, let alone guests you are paying in food to be there. There are other gleaning groups out there the owner could have called, or could call next time.

Treat fellow gleaners with respect: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. If you have a problem, be open and try to handle things directly, and in a mature manner. Glean leader has the final say.

NO SMOKING! Not even “just” vaping and especially no marijuana.
NO EATING! We do not want anyone leaving wrappers at a glean site. Drinks should be brought in your own, reusable non-glass containers where possible. We also don’t want to run the risk of leaving water bottle trash behind, or glass items that could be broken and leave glass shards in someone’s yard. Non-approved food or drinks should be left in your vehicle.

Use common sense: You are on owner’s property at your own risk- homeowners are not liable for ANY injuries under the Good Samaritan Act. Please take every precaution to ensure SAFETY FIRST. Know your limitations and respect the limitations of others.

Listen to the glean leader.

Point person (organizer or glean leader) of the glean is responsible for communicating specifics of the glean regarding unusable produce, kids on site, and overseeing glean split. This person is also in charge of getting the donation to FFLC and the receipt to the landowner if applicable. Any questions or problems, please go to the glean leader- NEVER the landowner/host. You may contact Brandy with any questions or concerns, but likely I will just need to refer back to a glean leader for any issues that arose at a glean that I did not attend.

Be respectful.

Be respectful to the leader, other members, and the site we are at. We have a diverse membership with many different backgrounds and belief systems. We are a community of individuals and we expect everyone to be treated equally well.