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Thousands pick up leftover vegetables from Colorado farm


November 27, 2008
By The Canadian Press

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November 24, 2008, Platteville,
Colo. – A farm couple in Colorado got a huge surprise when they opened
their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over
after the harvest – 40,000
people showed up.

November 24, 2008, Platteville, Colo. – A farm couple in Colorado got a huge surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over after the harvest.

Forty thousand people showed up.

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Joe and Chris Miller’s fields were picked so clean Nov. 22 that a second day of gleaning – the ancient practice of picking up leftover food in farm fields – was cancelled for Nov. 23.

“Overwhelmed is putting it mildly,” Chris Miller said. “People obviously need food.”

She said she expected 5,000 to 10,000 people would show up on the first day to collect free potatoes, carrots and leeks.

Instead, an estimated 11,000 vehicles snaked around cornfields and backed up more than three kilometres.

About 12 hectares of the 243-hectare farm 60 kilometres north of Denver became a parking lot.

Some people parked their cars along two nearby highways to take to the field with sacks, wagons and barrels.

“Everybody is so depressed about the economy,” said Sandra Justice of Greeley, who works at a technology company. “This was a pure party. Everybody having a great time getting something for free.”

Justice and her mother and son picked 10 bags of vegetables.

Miller said they opened the farm to the free public harvest for the first time this year after hearing reports of food being stolen from churches. It was meant as a thank you for customers.

Farm operations manager Dave Patterson said that in previous years the Millers allowed schoolchildren and some church groups to come to the farm during the fall to harvest their own food.

An estimated 272,000 kilograms of produce was harvested Nov. 22.

Weld County sheriff’s deputies helped direct traffic and the Colorado State Patrol issued citations for cars illegally parked on the side of the road.