Information for New Volunteers
Thank you for registering as a volunteer with GleanSLO! We look forward to meeting you. By volunteering with GleanSLO, you are agreeing to the Terms of Participation. Here is other helpful information.
Everyone who attends a harvest must first be registered as a volunteer. Once you are registered, you are eligible to sign up for harvests, and you don’t have to register again. If you have not signed up for a harvest for 14 months you will no longer be sent emails announcing large harvests. You can go to the Volunteer page to renew your registration.
Find out about harvests
For large harvests, we will send an email with a description of the harvest and a link to the Harvests page.
An email is not sent for smaller harvests, but they are posted on the Harvests page. Often, we find out about crop donations on very short notice, so check your email or the Harvests page regularly.
Sign up for a harvest
Open harvests are posted on the Harvests page. To sign up, click on the harvest link, and then type in your name. You must type it exactly as you did when you first registered, so we can match your record in our database.
You must read and check off the Release and Waiver to be added to the roster. Then click on the button that says ‘Signup for this harvest.’
How will I know where the harvest is?
After you sign up, you’ll see a page with the address of the harvest and helpful information, such as whether a ladder is needed. This is the only place the actual address appears on the website so write it down or print it out.
You’ll also receive an email with the same information and a link back to that web page. If you want to check out your history of participation or have the email resent, go to the “Volunteer” button on our homepage.
Please cancel if you can’t make it!
If your schedule changes, please cancel so someone else can take your spot. The email you receive will include a link where you can cancel. Your courtesy will also help us schedule the right number of volunteers for the available produce.
When you arrive …
When you arrive GleanSLO volunteers will show you where to park and help you check in. We’ll provide a brief orientation with helpful tips and information about the property.
Every adult who attends a harvest must be a registered volunteer and must have signed up online for that harvest. Children do not need to register or sign up, but must be supervised by an adult who is on the roster. Please note that not all harvests allow children. We will post specific information when harvests are child-friendly.
That is all the basic information! Please keep reading to find answers to questions that volunteers often have about GleanSLO.
Who runs GleanSLO?
GleanSLO is an effort under the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County that unites farmers, community volunteers, backyard gardeners, health advocates and food providers to harvest and donate excess produce into our local food system. Our mission is to connect people with food that would otherwise go to waste, reduce hunger throughout the city, and build a sense of community. The leadership team volunteers many hours of their own time to make harvests happen.
As a non-profit organization we are entirely dependent on donations to support our efforts. If you share our mission and would like to help, click the “Donate” button on our Support page.
What should I do if my contact information changes?
If you are changing contact information like your email address or phone number, go to the Volunteer page and click on 'Update.If you need to make a name change, write to Dick Yates at email@example.com.
Why won’t the signup page let me on the roster?
You may have typed your name differently than you did when you initially registered. You also need to check off the Release and Waiver of Liability. If you are still unable to access the roster, contact Dick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 991-5525.
I forgot to write down the harvest address!
The email you receive after you sign up includes a link to information about the harvest, including the address. If you have signed up for the harvest but have lost this email, go to the GleanSLO website and click on the “Volunteer” button. Click the button there to get another email. If you have any trouble, contact Dick.
How are harvests planned?
Harvest leaders meet with crop owners to scout the property and discuss harvest logistics. The size of the roster is determined by the amount of produce, the number of available volunteer staff, and parking space. Our goal is to accommodate as any people as possible.
We are indebted to property owners and commercial growers who share our mission. Commercial growers are able to donate for a variety of reasons. Sometimes produce is left over because it wasn’t sold or wasn’t ripe at the time of harvest. Some crops are unsuitable for machine harvests, and other crops are too small to fulfill a cannery contract. These factors mean that we don’t know which large-scale crops will be available each season, and often have only a few days’ notice to plan harvests.
Can I bring my kids?
We encourage parents to bring their children, but please be aware that some harvests will be more suitable for kids than others. No one under the age of 13 may climb a ladder, and climbing trees is never allowed. If the lowest fruit is not accessible from the ground, there are few opportunities for younger children to help. We always provide as much information as possible about the height of the tree and the lowest fruit, so that you can make the decision about whether or not to bring your kids. Youth under age 18 don’t need to register as volunteers, but parents are required to check off the waiver form, agreeing to provide supervision.
Volunteers under age 18 must be actively supervised by an adult who is on the harvest roster.
We believe that picking with GleanSLO is a valuable educational experience and a fabulous opportunity for young folks to give back to the community. When we announce new harvests, we will call special attention to those that are appropriate for children.
What should I bring to the harvest?
- Bring water to drink and take care of any bathroom needs before arriving as we may or may not have access to restrooms during the harvest. This will be noted in the harvest description after you sign up.
- If you have an orchard ladder, please let us know and you may be encouraged to bring it. We always provide as much information as possible about the height of the trees and the fruit, so that you can make the decision about whether or not to bring a ladder. We will usually provide orchard ladders when they are useful, and we ask volunteers to share in shifts. If you have an orchard ladder, you are encouraged to bring it. Step ladders are not as stable as orchard ladders, but they can be useful where the ground is level. Extension ladders are not useful. No one under age 16 is allowed to climb a ladder.
- You may want to bring gloves for handling wooden ladders and vinyl or nitrile (non-latex) gloves for picking fruit.
- Bring a reusable bag. Our volunteer gleaners pick for The Food Bank first, but when there is still excess food, and the farmer agrees, the volunteers can sample the harvest and take something home.
What should I wear?
We suggest sunblock, a long-sleeved T-shirt, long pants, comfortable closed-toe shoes and a hat (trees are often dusty).
Has the produce been sprayed with chemicals?
Our harvests take place at a wide variety of properties, from 10-acre orchards to urban backyards. We always ask the property owner whether or not their fruit has been sprayed with non-organic chemicals in the last three years, and we include that information when we schedule the harvest.
Do I have to stay for the entire time?
Since space is limited at many of the harvest sites, we ask that you register to harvest only when you can arrive on time and stay for the whole time until the crop is picked. Most harvests are scheduled for about two hours.
Why do harvests fill so quickly?
Many people have registered with GleanSLO. When a harvest is posted, we believe it is most fair to notify all volunteers at the same time. Unfortunately, at this time there is no practical way to rotate signup opportunities. Those who take on greater leadership roles have a better chance of hearing about smaller, last-minute harvest.
Why aren’t there more harvests?
GleanSLO relies on donations from crop owners. While we do want crop owners to be aware of our service, we do not contact specific farmers to ask them to participate. After a crop is donated, our leadership team considers how many harvests will be needed to harvest the produce. We also consider our ability to staff the harvest, provide parking space and accommodate requests from the crop owner.
Who should I contact if I have other questions?
Please check out the Contacts page. We are always happy to help.