Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Gleaners

Girls, this is something you should check into doing where you live.
See if farmers allow gleaning after their harvests.

Thousands glean fields in Denver

That tens of thousands of people came to a Weld County farm on Saturday to collect free potatoes, carrots and leeks could be one of the most palpable signs of a depressed economy.

The Miller family, which owns 600 acres of farmland outside Platteville, decided to hold a free food day because they had tens of thousands of pounds of extra produce at the end of their fall festival. Any day now, a deep freeze would ruin it, so the family let people come to the farm today to collect what they could haul.

They expected between 5,000 and 10,000 — but instead found themselves inundated with cars and people with buckets and wagons and barrels ready to harvest whatever was available. They estimated the crowd at more than 40,000 people.

"Overwhelmed is putting it mildly," said farm owner Chris Miller. "People obviously need food."

Cars snaked around the cornfields starting at 8:30 a.m., and at one point, Miller said, she had 30 acres of farmland turned into a parking lot. Traffic was backed up to Interstate 25 and police officials ticketed people who had abandoned their cars along highways 66 and 119 for the food frenzy.

Sandra Justice brought her mother and her son and collected about 12 bags of fresh produce. She said the activity brought some levity in a downtrodden time.

"Everybody is so depressed about the economy and everywhere you look the weather is going bad and the economy is going bad," said Justice, who works at a technology company in Fort Collins. "This was a pure party. Everybody having a great time getting something for free."

Allison Sherry: 303-954-1377 or

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