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Green Orchard

How East Tennessee Gleaners Co-op is very different from

other food-collecting and gleaning organizations

Unlike other organizations you may have worked with in the past

ETGC endeavors to cut out the spoilage that occurs in warehouses and food banks.

Other organizations come with a small group of volunteers to glean only the best produce from your field, leaving a large amount behind. They load the produce into a large hot truck and drive to a warehouse or many small food banks, wherever they find space. Then, the produce can sit for several days until it ends up in the home of someone who needs it, quickly spoiling on their counter. In some cases, the produce spoils before it reaches the people who need it and ends up dumped in a different field. Unfortunately, your produce is ready to pick when it's ready, not on the scheduled day the food banks are handing out.

ETGC accepts annual memberships from families willing to help themselves. ETGC educates our members to glean(safely by hand), preserve, and make the most out of the produce. ETGC brings a group of families in need directly to your field to pick for themselves, plus some extra for other members who can not pick for themselves. ETGC's members then take the produce directly home and preserve it, leaving no waste. This allows ETGC to truly glean, picking seconds, after growth, blemished, and any produce left after harvesting is complete. ETGC is a 501(c) organization, so we count/weigh all the produce we glean to allow farmers to write the exact amount donated off their taxes.

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What ETGC needs from you

Our Members thrive to save food that would otherwise go to waste. We can only save food with the cooperation of area farms both big and small. 

ETGC is made up of 200 Member families that work to recover food and are taught by each other ways to preserve and make the most of that food.

We ask farmers to supply us with:

  • Seconds - Seconds are those that have a bruise or are in some way not in good enough shape for the farmer to charge full price

  • Second Growth - May crops continue to grow after harvest 

  • Imperfect items - Like seconds these are items that have been rejected by stores

  • Spoiling produce - These can be items that due to many reasons have fully ripened and will not be able to get to the stores before they spoil

  • Produce that will not be picked due to low market value - Sometimes produce will not be harvested because its value has dropped under the cost of harvesting 

  • Discounted U-Pick - Many farmers will discount U-Pick for our members to increase their U-Pick profits


We can collect by Gleaning, we escort a group of members to your field on a set day and time to pick what they can use and 10% extra that we deliver to local food banks. We can all pick up already harvested items which we distribute to our members and local food banks.

Once in your field, ETGC Members are taught how to properly pick without hurting any crops, fields, or equipment. ETGC Members always pick by hand, no machinery is used. Our farms and farmers are very important to us, our members will always leave a field exactly as we found it.

Our most common methods of food recovery include:


  • Field Gleaning - Collecting the various crops from farm fields that may have been mechanically harvested or in fields where it is no longer economically profitable for the farmer to harvest. 

  • Backyard Gleaning – Gathering fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens or orchards when the produce is in abundance or maybe a burden (or even a wildlife attractant!) to the homeowners. We're here to help! 

  • Perishable Food Rescue – Distributing perishable produce from wholesale farms or other sources that would normally find its way to the landfill. This produce is distributed to the community at large.

Learn More About Gleaning >

How we can help your farm

ETGC wants to help our farmers in any way we can.


Helping us can help a farm in several ways including:

  • Tax Deductions - for gleaned and donated crops. ETGC is a 501(3)c charity, we weigh or count all the items donated for the farmer to write off their taxes. This can help offset tax costs for both large farms and back gardens.

  • Profit from Seconds - ETGC purchases seconds and distributes them to our members.

  • Prevent a mess - ETGC can remove nearly spoiled produce, which we can quickly distribute to our members who will preserve the items for future use. 

  • Preserve your fields - Gleaning can remove acidic crops before they are plowed into the soil.

  • Help Others - Rather than plow down perfectly good food you can see it go to people who will make use of it.

  • Advertising -  ETGC has hundreds of members and thousands of local followers online. We can advertise your sales and events.

Gleaned items are never sold - ETGC members personally use the items they glean they are not allowed to sell any item they glean.


There is no liability for the farm. ETGC is fully insured. Gleaning is also covered under several state and federal laws - Legal Info

If you are or know a farmer/source of food that we may be able to glean please let us know.

Thanks for submitting!

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