Volunteer FAQs

When is the next gleaning day?

We don’t know exactly when or where the next gleaning day will occur as farmers don’t schedule their surplus. The majority of gleaning days are planned with around 2 weeks' notice. To find out about the next glean that is scheduled, check the calendar.

We can say that most gleans happen between June and November. Seasonality plays a part in anticipating a gleaning opportunity, crops tend to be surplus towards the end of a growing cycle (late winter for veg and late autumn for top fruit).

Why are crops surplus?

There are varying reasons for crops being surplus; common themes include overproduction, labour shortages, market dynamics, cosmetic standards and extreme weather. It’s very rarely, if ever, due to malpractice on the part of the grower. Take a look at the resources page to find out more about farm level food surplus.

Where will the produce end up?

Gleaned food donations are slightly irregular, as they are usually one type of produce, usually perishable, often in very large quantities. This means donations often end up at redistribution charities like FareShare, the Felix Project and UK Harvest, who in turn deliver to the wider community food sector. Smaller local community organisations, like homeless shelters and community kitchens, may also be interested in taking some of the produce. Volunteers with connections to community food projects are welcome to take gleaned produce.

Can I come gleaning if I don't have a car?

Yes. We organise lift-shares and connect volunteer passengers with volunteer drivers. Please note that during this journey you are not covered by our organisational public liability insurance.

I completed the Volunteer Registration Form. Am I signed up to come?

Not yet. You have completed the first step of giving us your contact information and indicating that you agree with the Participation Guidelines. Now you need to visit our Gleans page. Here you will find all of the open gleans that are currently scheduled. Sign up for the gleans that you would like to attend. If there are no gleans listed, then we do not have any scheduled.

I signed up for a glean. When will I get the address?

  • After you sign up to pick fruit on the Gleans page, your name is added to the glean roster. The page that appears right after you sign up shows the address for the glean. Write it down before you go to any other page.
  • You will also be sent an email with a link to the glean details.
  • Make sure that we have your contact information so we can put you on the glean roster. If you have not previously registered as a volunteer, fill out the Volunteer Registration Form. You will only need to complete this form once.

I signed up for a glean, and now I can't go. What should I do?

The email that you receive after signing up for the glean has a link in it to use if you need to cancel. The same applies to the waiting list. We really appreciate you cancelling if you can't make it because it gives someone else a chance to attend the glean.

Why are the gleans filling up so quickly?

Many registered volunteers are checking the gleans page. Those who do this often usually get on the roster first. This, and our Facebook group page, are the only places that we announce gleans that are available for signing up unless there is reason to think that we will not get enough volunteers in time. Some find it helpful to make the gleans page the home page on their browser.

Why are there not more gleans?

A surplus crop is something most growers try to avoid and usually are the result of some part of the growing process not going to plan. When we are invited to glean, we have to line up our team’s availability to attend as well as the capacity of recipient organisations to redistribute the produce. This means that there are limits on the number of gleans we can run.

Can I bring my friend?

Yes! Just be sure that they have completed the Volunteer Registration Form and have signed up for the glean along with you. We need to keep track of how many people are coming to each glean so we don't have too many or too few volunteers.

Can I bring my children?

Children are welcome to come on the majority of gleaning days provided they are under the supervision of a responsible adult. There are certain instances however where a gleaning day is solely for volunteers over the age of 18, this is when harvesting knives are required to be used or if the host farmer stipulates.

What shall I wear?

Given the nature of the work it’s worth coming in loose and comfortable clothing which you don’t mind getting a bit grubby. Closed-toes shoes and a hat to regulate your temperature.

What do I need to bring to a glean?

Water, sunscreen (if it's sunny or might be sunny), and a bag for any produce you'd like to take home with you. We provide all required picking equipment.

Do I need to bring food?

Yes please bring food for yourselves based on the length of time the glean is scheduled to be. Sometimes gleaners bring food to share around, but there is no expectation for you to have food to share.

Can I take produce home?

You’re welcome (and encouraged!) to take produce home with you, so do bring a bag or container with you to do so. There will be plenty of time whilst harvesting to share recipe tips.

Will my picture be taken?

Only with your consent. We like to share pictures of gleaning days on social media so we can spread the word about farm level food waste. If you feel uncomfortable with having your picture (or anyone else’s in your group) shared for whatever reason, then just let us know via email or phone.

Will the day be safe?

Gleaning days take place on working farms that feature a range of hazards, particularly moving vehicles, right from the start of the day. We have a thorough risk assessment and all volunteers will be brief at the start of the day of potential hazards. Additionally a trained first aider will always be present and we will have a first aid kit with us in case of any incidents.

Can I bring my dog to the glean?

Sorry, but no. Whilst we love dogs, unfortunately we’ve found from experience that they are at best a joyful distraction and at worst a possible risk.

I'd like to organize a group glean. Is that possible?

Potentially! Email info@sussexgleaning.org with an outline of your group’s needs and when you’d ideally like to glean. Due to the somewhat unpredictable nature of gleaning, we usually cannot provide a location until a week or two before the event.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to pop us an email!