Many of our farmers and growers enjoy the relationship with GleanSLO because it allows them to connect and help their community. Without these relationships, the variety of our produce would be limited. Now we are able to glean a wide range – from citrus over bok choy to sweet potatoes and many other fruits and veggies in between.
We are lucky to have so many farmers and growers on our side, and while we wish we could talk about every single person who makes our work possible, we wanted to highlight two of our long-time donors, Marcus Hunt and Tom Ikeda.
Meet Marcus, the Fresh Harvest Production Manager at Talley Farms. Marcus began farming when he was working in the restaurant industry and saw chef’s demand for specific fruits. He started his own farm, Hunt Family Farms, where he grew blackberries for five years before transitioning to Talley Farms. Marcus first collaborated with GleanSLO after a recommendation by City Farm, an educational farm. He said that working with GleanSLO was eye opening in demonstrating the high number of food insecure residents, as well as the amount of edible food wasted in the food industry and agriculture. His favorite things about farming are being able to provide for his community, the challenges he faces and the reward of a successful harvest.
» Read more about: The Roots of GleanSLO Are Nurtured By SLO County Growers »
San Luis Obispo County is a region of vast abundance, yet only a portion of the population has consistent access to a wide-range of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. In San Luis Obispo County, over 800 million pounds of produce are grown annually. About 7% of these planted crops go unharvested, which translates to more than 58 million pounds of fruits and vegetables that are left in fields every year. GleanSLO is a program of the Food Bank Coalition which rescues produce that would otherwise go to waste from farms, orchards and backyards.
How It Works
Gleaning is the collection of leftover crops both large and small, from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or from fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. GleanSLO has expanded this definition to include the collection of surplus produce from backyards and gardens of community residents.
- Many commercial growers and private homeowners have fruit trees, or entire orchards and fields that produce more fresh fruit or vegetables than they can harvest. We invite them to register their crops online. Donations are tax deductible. (Some California growers may be eligible for a 10% tax credit.)
- GleanSLO staff organize harvests and volunteers to gather the fresh produce. Volunteers sign up online, checking off a liability waiver that protects crop owners.
» Read more about: Rescuing Nature’s Bounty For The Benefit Of Our Community »
Carolyn Eicher is the heart, soul and co-founding innovator of a community movement that led to the creation of GleanSLO. She would be the first to describe it as a team effort that took advantage of dozens of creative women and men who wanted to rise to the challenge of rescuing food in a community where so many go hungry. An avid photographer, Carolyn’s pictures have helped tell the GleanSLO story for many years. Carolyn recently sat down to answer some questions about the history and future of this innovative endeavor.
What drew you to the issue of food rescue?
Well, for one, I was inspired by my father who was an Agricultural Economist and who spent his career focused on food insecurity and food production in Africa. I was born in West Africa and though I did not grow up there, I visited my birth country and several countries in Southern Africa in my 20’s. I also traveled with my father to India and Pakistan after finishing my undergraduate degree and continued to learn about his commitment to ending hunger. I often listened to my dad brainstorming about solutions to ending hunger and feel I was influenced by his passion for helping, educating and learning from others. I admired my dad’s commitment to Africa but personally have focused on issues in my own community.
My dedication to local food issues also developed naturally from volunteer work. I helped support school gardens through a non-profit several community members and I started, called SLO Grown Kids, over ten years ago. The fabric of GleanSLO was woven by the efforts and dedication of the passionate folks in our community who believed this program was possible. I wish I could honor and list each significant player in this interview from those memorable early days.
» Read more about: GleanSLO Co-Founder Carolyn Eicher on Food Rescue: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow »