Harvest Leader Manual

  Misc: Terms of Participation

All volunteers check off the Terms of Participation when they first register and also each time that they sign up for a harvest. The Terms of Participation are the basic agreement between Merced County Gleaning and the volunteers. Harvest leaders supervise volunteers at harvests, so an essential task is to monitor how volunteers follow the terms and to intervene when necessary. Most of the terms are obvious and self-explanatory. It can be useful for harvest leaders to be familiar with other details about them or the background that led to them. This section contains the Terms of Participation as bullet points in italics, with additional information.

By registering as a volunteer with Merced County Gleaning and attending events that we sponsor, you are agreeing to the following terms of participation:

  • The mission of Merced County Gleaning is to feed the hungry by harvesting food that would go to waste. Consistent with this mission, harvested produce which I take home will go to children or homeless, unemployed, elderly or low-income individuals (see ORS 315.154(3)) I will conduct myself in a manner consistent with that mission while attending Merced County Gleaning sponsored events.

Some of the terms are specific and some are more general. This one allows harvest leaders the leeway to make judgments about volunteers' conduct in unanticipated situations and intervene as necessary. This is best done after checking with the harvest director, co-leaders, other experienced leaders or board members if possible. The primary consideration for intervention is safety (reckless ladder use, for example). Most other issues can instead be reported and decided later (a volunteer taking more than a half share).

  • When I sign up for harvests, I will check off the boxes indicating that I have read and agree to the terms of the Release and Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement. I will not sign up other people for harvests.

One of crop owners' biggest concerns is about their liability in the event of accidents. There are several layers of protection in place that protect Merced County Gleaning and the crop owner. The key one is the liability waiver that is checked off when volunteers sign up for harvests. This is not a flexible rule. Anyone who arrives and is not on the roster must sign a paper copy of the waiver. Any time that harvest leaders hear of someone signing up someone else, they should take the opportunity to correct them by reminding of the Terms of Participation. It would also be reasonable to have them sign the paper form to emphasize the point, if you know someone else signed them up.

  • I will cancel my roster spot if, after signing up for a harvest, I find that I am unable to attend.

Canceling allows someone on the waiting list to be promoted. Some volunteers do not also understand that canceling a waiting list spot may also allow someone else to be promoted, and prevent them from being marked absent.

  • I will be punctual in arriving at harvests.
  • I will not enter any crop owners' property before or after harvests conducted by Merced County Gleaning.

This is another prime concern of crop owners. Large farms in rural areas have no fences and poaching can be problem for them.

  • I will not bring other adults to harvests who have not signed up and been added to the roster.

In almost all cases when this happens, we allow the other person to harvest after signing a waiver, but we also want to make clear that it is one of the terms and the reasons for it: 1) picker numbers are closely calculated, 2) scant resources are needed to handle check-in and later attendance entry of extras.

  • I will not smoke at harvests.
  • I will not bring alcohol to harvests.
  • I will not bring firearms to harvests.

These should require little explanation. There have been instances of each one in the past - even the one about firearms.

  • will not bring latex gloves to harvests.

These cause some people allergic reactions and Marion Polk Food Share requires us to include it.

  • I will not bring glass containers to harvests.

The original reason for this term was not connected to a Merced County Gleaning event. A truckload of produce was delivered to the cannery and a piece of broken glass was found in the load. The entire crop of many acres had to be rejected because of the risk that there was more glass. One incident of this at a Merced County Gleaning could be devastating. There are never exceptions to this rule.

  • I understand that harvests are conducted on private property that the owner has granted Merced County Gleaning permission to enter and harvest. I will conduct myself in a manner that is respectful of the owner's property at all times.
  • I will be respectful of other participants at harvests.
  • I will listen to, and follow the rules of, the orientation about the harvest given by the harvest leader.
  • I will follow all directions given to me by the harvest leader or designated assistants.
  • At least half of what I harvest will be donated by Merced County Gleaning to food agencies. When there are exceptions to this basic rule, they will explained at harvest orientation.
  • I will not sell or barter the portion of the harvest that I take home.

This has not happened as far as we know in connection with Merced County Gleaning. There is a history in the Willamette Valley of it happening with other gleaning groups. Farmers are especially sensitive to this issue as it is competition from the very people that they are donating food to.

  • I understand that Merced County Gleaning reserves the right to deny me entry to a harvest, or require me to leave a harvest, or remove me from the registration list if I do not follow these Terms of Participation.

These are all very significant steps that should be taken only after careful thought and consultation. It is extremely rare for them to be necessary. In nearly all cases, except for imminent danger, documenting and reporting to the Harvest Director is the best course.