“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.”
Hunger is a big deal. It is present on a global scale as well as in every local community in our nation, regardless of the median household income or unemployment rate. It is a struggle that young people understand and want to respond to in tangible, hands-on ways.
Following the scripture-mandated practice of “gleaning”, a farm in our community recently donated an entire apple orchard to our local food bank. Our congregation put out word to families about the need for volunteers to pick the apples, and three 8th graders sprung into action. Below is the story of what happened, written by Natalie Moir.
On a recent Saturday, Anna Green, Kathryn Roessler and I set out to pick apples. We went to Vollmeckes Orchard, which is a family farm in Coatesville, PA. There were many volunteers like us, there to pick on the fall equinox. Our group of three collected 12 crates of apples, that is about 1800 total apples!
It was fun and challenging at the same time. We had to reach up high, down low, and well into apple trees. The apples looked deliciously fresh, right off the tree.
We were picking for The Chester County Food Bank’s gleaning program. Gleaning is collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been harvested. It is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus and Ruth. To talk about the wider community, this farm is one of forty that participates in this “gleaning” program! Once the apples are sorted at the Chester County Food Bank warehouse, some will go to the Great Valley Food Pantry, which serves our local community.
My fellow youth and I had a lot of fun picking apples to start off the season. After an hour and a half of picking apples, we each got a T-Shirt that said “Chester County Food Bank” on it. We all agreed that we would want to come back next year! Apple gleaning sure was a great way to spend a Saturday morning in the fall.
A few simple yet important things that can be learned from this:
- Young people want to live out their faith in ways that address the needs they see in the world around them.
- As opportunities present themselves in the local community, it can be very easy to engage young people in service without needing to create projects from scratch.
- As young people engage in service, the role of the congregation can focus on helping young people to reflect on their service and tell others about it.