Presenter/Artist: Natalie Joelle

Title: Glean-to: Gleaning in Lean Culture with Food in Community

An installation at the Cob Barn, Schumacher College

Abstract: This participatory project and micro-exhibition board showcases the excellent work of local Schumacher-inspired collective Food in Community. It places their gleaning practices into conversation with cultural artefacts exploring shifts in the meaning of gleaning across periods and media, from the Book of Ruth through to Devon-based disputes over gleaning law and contemporary appropriation of the word by global agribusiness.

Changes in the meaning of gleaning are crucial to developing methods in the emerging field of environmental humanities, because gleaning is both an agricultural and a thinking practice. How does the recent re-emergence of gleaning in UK grass roots food movements impact upon what the term means today?

Working in partnership with Food In Community, which grew from Schumacher’s Sustainable Horticulture programme and maintains strong relationships with College kitchen staff, this project investigates contemporary gleaning by:

• Curating a micro-exhibition board of gleaning artefacts accompanied by a gleaned feast, generating a resource that can continue as a talking point for Food in Community’s future gleaned lunches;

• Developing a new archive of local gleaning practices, including documenting gleans in advance of the event, opportunity for delegates to join volunteers for three hours of field gleaning, and inviting responses to this for the conference publication.

Gleaning Now generates new thought about the gleaning practices that are an important legacy of Schumacher education and an alternative food source to animal agriculture that is the largest sole contributor to climate crisis, in the context of a search for forms of green knowledge in the environmental humanities.

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