365 Days of Earrings

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Felt Earrings for Apple Gleaning

Today we loaded our 3rd graders into two mini-buses and drove to the Marker-Miller Orchard in Winchester, VA to glean apples.

Disclaimer: these are not the buckets of apples that we gleaned. We were assigned rows of golden delicious apples. As we filled buckets, we tied up 10 pound bags containing 30 servings each. Each of my 26 students filled at least 5 buckets. 26 x 4 x 10 = 1250 pounds of apples, and 3750 servings. Then we loaded the bags on trucks that were heading straight for a food pantry and a homeless shelter. The apples we touched would feed hungry people today.
Millet's painting: The Gleaners

Gleaning is a word that has fallen out of use. I think I learned about gleaning from the Biblical story of Naomi and her daughter Ruth. Landowners were expected to leave some food behind for the laborers to glean, so that they could feed themselves.

Here is the Wikipedia definition of gleaning:
Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system.

Mosaic of Millet's The Gleaners that I photographed
last summer in France when we visited Barbizon on
our bike trip.
 I love gleaning apples with my students. We walk past trees laden with apples to the rows where pick-your-own visitors have cleaned the trees. We search the ground, loading our buckets with the good apples that were left behind. Collecting apples to feed hungry children is so tangible. My students can look at each apple, deciding, "Would I want to eat that apple?" They learn that their effort can make a difference in the lives of others.

I wore my handmade felt carrot earrings today. Remarkable as it seems, I don't own any apple earrings. This pair was a gift from my student Justin three years ago. His brother Luke is in my class this year. I wore produce in honor of the harvest season which we celebrated today by gleaning apples.

Justin and Luke's mom, Pam, bakes the best pie I've ever eaten. She gave me a pie-baking lesson, but I have yet to master pie crust.

I love these earrings. They're the only felt pair that I own. When I thanked Pam for them years ago, she said, "We saw them at a festival and thought of you. Who else would wear felt carrots on her ears?"

I took this as the compliment it was intended to be. Perhaps I'll try to make some felt apples before I go gleaning again.

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