Hand picked oranges at a Senior Farmers’ Market

Interviews and photos by Carolyn Eicher. 

Our GleanSLO interview this month features two residents in San Luis Obispo from Judson Terrace Homes which provides affordable housing for seniors 62 years and older. The Food Bank’s “Free Farmers’ Market Style” distribution is being held in the courtyard of Judson Terrace on a monthly basis since September of 2014.

photo by JenMost seniors are living on a fixed income and find it difficult to adjust to the ever increasing cost of living. Low income seniors comprise 20% of the Food Bank’s consumers. Senior farmers’ markets will help increase access to nutritious food to keep the fastest growing demographic in our community healthy and strong.

The day of our interviews, gleaned navel oranges from a local property in Arroyo Grande were being distributed, only 4 days after the glean, along with bunches of spinach, broccoli, onions, potatoes, carrots and more. Judson Terrace residents gathered and perused the tables of assorted produce, loading bags and push carts with the fruit and vegetables of their choice. Volunteers helping at the farmers’ market distribution enjoyed telling the story of the gleaned oranges and recipients gladly bagged oranges, hand picked, just for them.


“I like the variety of produce offered and think the program is excellent.” ~Paul

Paul, pictured here, shared his enthusiasm for the produce he receives from the monthly distributions which often includes local produce from GleanSLO. He particularly enjoys local, and preferably organic produce. During the interview, Paul shared his interests in healthy food and used the term, “health nut” to describe himself, as he takes pride in being healthy and physically active and eating well.



Maria has also been receiving food distributions from the Food Bank and enjoys cooking for herself and her husband as well as other residents at Judson Terrace. Maria frequently makes soup from the produce she receives and shares often with ill residents or those who may not be able to make their own meals or get out easily on their own.

The farmers’ market style distributions are the SLO Food Bank’s fastest growing model to distribute fresh produce. The farmers’ markets have been extremely successful, offering a wide range of produce and the option for consumers to choose which items they prefer.


Check out the Food Bank website to find a food distribution near you or to learn more about the Farmers’ Market Distributions.

Gleanin’ for the Holidays!

Guest blogger: Emma Phillips, GleanSLO intern from Brown University

Emma harvesting radishes at Talley Farms

Emma harvesting radishes at Talley Farms

After finishing up another semester of college on the colder coast, I was glad to head from East to West for winter break and a break from winter. Most of the vegetables I’ve been eating lately in Providence, RI have been flash frozen, and not always intentionally. As an urban studies major, I focus on urban agriculture, and how community gardens can serve to revitalize neighborhoods, provide nutrient dense produce, and gainful employment for refugee communities. As I drove from San Luis Obispo to Talley Farms to glean, Orcutt Road’s rolling vineyards quickly made it clear I’d left the urban behind, and was headed back into the heart of Central California agriculture land I was raised on.

We began the morning harvesting lettuce, a quick and easy crop that left us feeling accomplished as we filled crates faster than we could unpack them from the truck. After leaving lettuce behind, and heading over to the leek field, we quickly learned the extent of our expertise, though. Leeks proved much trickier, requiring skilled paring skills that we slowly mastered. Gradually moving to fill even one box collectively, I couldn’t help but grin as Talley Farm’s employees left the adjacent field for their lunch break, as they must have found our novice attempts at leek harvesting quite comical. Nonetheless, after a mid-harvest secondary tutorial on proper leek harvesting methods, we managed to scrape up enough produce for leek soup, or stone soup at the very least.

Our last glean before Christmas, also at Talley Farms, brought together a tenacious crew. A preschool teacher, recent college graduate, an aspiring flight attendant, young professionals, and retirees all stooped over and got nice and dirty in a mud thick enough to rival the heartiest holiday eggnog. As we clipped away bunches of arugula, our biggest worry was tying the stems tight enough to survive transit. At the peak of the holiday season, the red and green of the radishes was fitting, and along with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, were the visions of fresh picked veggies making their ways onto the tables of local families.

SLO Creek Farms, first GleanSLO partner

Interview with Robyn Gable of SLO Creek Farms, by Carolyn Eicher

“Working with GleanSLO was one of the best decisions we’ve made.” ~Robyn Gable

2015 will mark the 5th anniversary of working with SLO Creek Farms. GleanSLO has had the privilege to work with the Gable family (Blythe, Robyn, Ashley, Brandon, Taysia) over these years. They are generous, open and always willing to support our work. GleanSLO is happy to partner with SLO Creek Farms!

Robyn and Blythe Gable at the farmers' market.

Robyn and Blythe Gable at the farmers’ market.

Robyn’s interview:

“Blythe and I were raised and met in Simi Valley, California. We moved to Las Vegas in 1973, got married and raised our family there. We had a thriving construction company and would occasionally come to San Luis Obispo to visit.  We loved the area, and eventually bought our apple orchard approximately 14 years ago. We leased it back to John DeVincenzo, until he passed away 5 years ago.”

“At that time, we decided to open up the farm as a U-Pick, so people could come enjoy the orchard. The previous accounts John had with produce buyers were not available to us, and we had an abundance of apples that we did not know what to do with. We decided to call the food bank to see if they would be interested in a large donation of apples.  GleanSLO  came out with some volunteers and harvested an abundance of apples. That was the beginning of our continuing relationship. That was the one of the best decisions we made, teaming up with the most amazing organization, workers and volunteers.  We are very thankful for the food bank and all the great work they do.”

“One of the things I really admire about GleanSLO is how innovative they are in figuring out different ways to get harvested food to the people in need. I recently heard about the farmers market they set up for people to come and shop for what they need for their families at no cost. They are very passionate about what they do and how they can get more fresh produce to less fortunate families.”

Donating Greens

In this season of giving, we look to you, our friends to help us through the next year of harvesting nature’s bounty…

Gleaning is a viable part of the solution to hunger. 

Thank you for being part of the change!

Photo credit: Carolyn Eicher

Photo credit: Carolyn Eicher

GleanSLO is a volunteer powered program of the Food Bank, harvesting and sharing food for the benefit of our community. Since our modest roots in 2010, we’ve harvested 559,000 pounds of fresh, local produce for families and individuals in need.

What can you get for one dollar at GleanSLO? Every dollar you donate equals roughly 14 pounds of healthy produce for families and individuals from the Food Bank. How about that bin of fresh apples in the photo below… equivalent to a donation of $50! Thinking of something a little bigger? A donation of $1,250 would equal an entire truckload of produce for those in need.

GleanSLO uses existing Food Bank resources and overwhelming volunteer support to minimize overhead and leverage donations to have the greatest impact possible.

15347978341_e6a44e37fe_kReady to help? Follow the link to make a secure online donation to support GleanSLO’s work.

donate now


Checks can be made out to the Food Bank Coalition of SLO County (GleanSLO in the memo) and mailed to:

Food Bank Coalition of SLO County

P.O. Box 2070

Paso Robles, CA 93447

Meet Nell Wade, a gleaner with vision!

Interview with Nell Wade by Carolyn Eicher
Nell Wade joined the GleanSLO Steering Committee this year and we are so happy she did!  Nell is a woman of many talents and offers her expertise, enthusiasm and passion for gleaning and giving back to the community. Nell spends her time involved with many local groups – she is a VP for Master Gardeners, a local group of Seed Savers, and is involved with helping revitalize the SLO Grange. Additionally, she is a member of Slow Money, the Food System Coalition and the local chapter of CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers) where she is the Market manager for the free Annual Scion Exchange at Cal Poly in February (3rd Saturday). At this event Nell wants to share that homeowners can learn to graft fruit trees and items such as root stock are sold. Nell brings so much wisdom and experience to our committee and is helping us expand the vision of gleaning for our county.

Nell harvesting thousands of pounds of tomatoes for the Food Bank.

“My name is Nell Wade.  I’ve always been interested in growing plants and became a Master Gardener in 2002.  Since moving to the area, I’ve also become interested in growing food, our local food climate and our local food system.  I started volunteering with GleanSLO a couple of years ago as a way to not only get fresh produce to those in need, but also to have a chance to sample different varieties of local produce.  I’ve dried apple chips; made fruit leather, and made freezer jam from the produce we’ve gleaned that are ‘seconds.’  I’ve also been experimenting with drying herbs from my garden.”
“My favorite thought is that from my labor a child or family can have nutritious produce several times a week.  It also gives me a better perspective of what it takes to harvest a crop and I’m less likely to waste it.”
“I now treat organic produce, whether I’ve bought it, grown it or gleaned it with respect as I want to honor the people that have picked my produce.  It’s exciting to me to see how I can use every bit of the produce, whether that’s feeding ourselves, our chickens or worms or feeding the soil – by composting it.  My vision for GleanSLO as well as the Food Bank is to insure that all in need have the capacity to help themselves to quality food.  That can be done not only by giving them weekly allotments of food, but also to teach them how to garden, preserve (canning, freezing and dehydrating) and build community, so that they have the tools to help themselves and their families.”

Farm Spotlight: Talley Farms in Arroyo Grande, CA

“The Talley family and our employees are pleased to ship weekly fresh produce to the Food Bank.  We believe that providing the opportunity for GleanSLO volunteers to come in and glean our fields is another way to care for those in need.  The enthusiasm of the volunteers from Glean SLO makes working with them a real pleasure as we come together to support our community. “ 

Todd Talley, CFO, Talley Farms

Pictured above are Brian Talley, Olivia Talley (center photo), Mission College Prep students, Charlee Bunnell (SLO Food Bank employee), Andrea Shapiro Chavez (Manager, Talley Farms Fresh Harvest).

Pictured above are Brian Talley, Olivia Talley (center photo), Mission College Prep students, Charlee Bunnell (SLO Food Bank employee), Andrea Shapiro Chavez (Manager, Talley Farms Fresh Harvest).

The Talley family has been donating harvested weekly fresh produce to the Food Bank for more than 4 years, donating more than 300,000 pounds of food since 2010. The Oceano Food Bank warehouse team has been receiving this produce and sharing it within 24 hours with Food Bank agencies and recipients. In 2012, the Talley family generously welcomed GleanSLO and Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School students for a bell pepper glean. Hosted by Brian and Johnine Talley as well as their daughters, this glean opened the door to future opportunities. GleanSLO is grateful to the Talley family, both family members and employees, for their generous spirit in not only allowing us into their fields, but by additionally believing in the importance of supporting a healthy community and donating already harvested produce each week. We want to thank the Talley family for their generous contributions!


Interview with Andrea Shapiro Chavez by Carolyn Eicher


Please share information about you and your background:

Andrea Shapiro ChavezManager, Fresh HarvestTalley Farms

Andrea is a Cal Poly graduate, earning a degree in Economics in 1980.  She has spent the last 30 years working at various levels in the produce business from Western Regional Sales Manager for Dole Fresh Vegetables, to being a Buying Broker, shipping produce all over the world, to owning her own business for 13 years delivering fresh produce and gourmet food to homes and offices in Southern California.  In February of 2012, Talley Farms hired her to create a new, local, consumer program for them called Talley Farms Fresh Harvest.  As a mother, wife and cook who loves fruits and vegetables, her passion in life is to “GET PEOPLE TO EAT MORE PRODUCE!”


We would love to know more about the Talley history! 


For over three generations, Talley Farms has been growing high quality fruits and vegetables.  It all started in 1948, when Oliver Talley began growing vegetables in the Arroyo Grande Valley on California’s Central Coast.  Talley Farms is now a diversified family-owned farming operation that grows, packs and ships a variety of fruits and vegetables, including bell peppers, wine grapes, napa cabbage, lemons, avocados, cilantro and brussels sprouts.  Brian, Todd, Ryan and Rosemary Talley are active in all aspects of the day-to-day operations of Talley Farms, following the company’s vision to strive for “Excellence in Everything.”


What is your connection to gleaning and GleanSLO?

I first heard about GleanSLO from participating in the SLO County Food System Coalition.  I always think of calling Jen Miller, GleanSLO Program Manager, when we have extra product in our Fresh Harvest fields and don’t have the labor to harvest it.  Jen is so enthusiastic about life and her job with the food bank.  I love communicating with her!  If we have the labor, we’ll go ahead and harvest the product and then donate it directly to the food bank.


What do you like about GleanSLO?

What I like the most about GleanSLO is we don’t have to use our labor to harvest a crop that we have chosen not to sell.  And it doesn’t get wasted!  All the volunteers are so positive and energetic.  It’s great to see them out in our fields!


Can you share ideas with us about the future of GleanSLO and the vision for a healthy community?


As the word gets out about GleanSLO and your ability to gather your volunteer troops to harvest, more and more growers will be calling you to finish up certain fields that they may not want to sell due to market conditions.  There are three of us at Talley Farms that communicates with Jen about fields available for gleaning.  As Jen gets to know more and more growers, there will be more product available for the food bank.


Any messages you’d like to share with other farmers who might be considering working with GleanSLO? 

Jen Miller is the key to having a warm and consistent relationship with GleanSLO and the food bank.  We are also happy to see volunteers who are aware of food safety standards that we follow in our fields.  We do not usually allow volunteers or strangers in our fields.

50 volunteers gleaned over 6,000 pounds of bell peppers and onions in less than 2 hours at Talley Farms.

50 volunteers gleaned over 6,000 pounds of bell peppers and onions in less than 2 hours at Talley Farms.

A story of wine, storage and glean love

GleanSLO had a need, we were really in a pinch. Homeless, you might say…

In August, we discovered that our comfortable storage space in the city of SLO (our central hub housing all gleaning supplies and equipment) was to be sold and we needed to find a new space pronto, before Oct. 1st. We panicked for a brief second. Then we remembered that we are a part of a community that loves all things gleaning. So we shouted our need from the rooftops, the social media mountains and the newsletter outlets. And the most amazing thing happened.


Winemaker Pat Muran, President Andy Niner, Winemakers Pat Martinez and Molly Bohlman and GleanSLO Program Manager Jen Miller.

Andy Niner of Niner Wine Estates called and offered to have a Mystery Wine Sale to benefit GleanSLO. He basically gleaned some of his older vintages to make room for newer vintages, sold the Mystery Wine cases (which were a combo of delish older and newer vintages) and gave 100% of the proceeds to GleanSLO to purchase storage space and supplies. The check totaled $6,300! It was like the gleaning gods were all singing in harmony, shining a little light upon us!

There was only one problem.

We had money for a shed, but no property to put it on.

So Andy Niner called his friend over at Meathead Movers. “Hi Aaron. There’s an organization, GleanSLO – from the Food Bank – that needs your help renting storage space. If you can donate a portion of the rent, I’ll fit the bill.” DONE. Meathead Movers donated a space big enough for all of GleanSLO’s equipment with room to grow.

We literally jumped for joy. A lot. (A very excited, and somewhat embarrassing, jumping Jeanine and Jen video: IMG_6989)

This story is worth telling because it reminds us that GleanSLO is a program of the community, for the community, by the community. We recognize that we are blessed to live in a region of such abundance and it is our responsibility to do good with the resources we’ve been given. When the community has a need, we come together to meet the challenge. It doesn’t take much to move mountains! Please help us support our sponsors, Meathead Movers and Niner Wine Estates. Be good to those that keep programs like GleanSLO going strong!



SLO Creek Farms Apple Harvest Festival

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2014   1pm-4pm


Hi Apple Friends,
It’s that time of year again for the Annual Apple Harvest Festival 2014!!! 
Come out to SLO Creek Farms Organic U-Pick Garden Area Sunday, October 12, 2014 from 1:00pm-4:00pm and get some FREE cider, freshly pressed right before your eyes. All we ask is that you bring your own 1/2 gallon empty jug and help pick some apples off the trees to help donate to the cider press so everyone can enjoy some free cider. First 1/2 gallon is free!!! There will be a tip jar if you would like to contribute to GleanSLO. Also more cider will be available for purchase if 1/2 gallon is not enough for you cider addicts.
This Festival is Sponsored by the Food Bank/GleanSLO & SLO Creek Farms. We are celebrating the harvest season, the generosity of the Gable family, and GleanSLO volunteers’ hard work and dedication to feed the hungry and help make this world a better place. Special thanks to SLO Creek Farms for making this possible!!! We love you guys!


We will have Live Music by Green to White, Dancing, BBQing, Raffling, Hooping Contest, Apple Seed Spitting Contest, Apple Pie Baking Contest, Pumpkins Painting, Hayrides and More!

SLO Creek Farms Apple Harvest Festival 2014 bushel_of_apples_1791838 15094312578_27db962454_z_________________________________

SLO Creek Farms~ Apple Harvest Festival 2014


Contests Itinerary:

  • 12:00pm: Turn in all Baked Pies for contest at 3:00pmat Pie Table
  • 1:30pm: Hoop Contest
  • 2:30pm: Apple Eating Contest
  • 3:15pm: Apple Pie Judging
  • 3:00pm: Apple Seed Spitting Contest
  • 3:30pm: Balance an apple on your head/Hooping Contest
  • 1:00pm-4:00pmTractor Hayrides-Free, Go to Community Garden
  • 1:00pm-4:00pm Sumo Wrestling-Free
  • 1:00pm-4:00pm Pumpkin Painting-Purchase Tickets $3.00
  • 1:00pm-3:00pm Face Painting- $ Pay at Face Painting Booth

Live Music:

  • 1:00pm-4:00pm Live Music by Green to White

Purchase Food, Raffle & Pumpkin Painting Tickets at the U-Pick Garden Stand


Apple Harvest Festival Raffle

$1.00 a Ticket

All proceeds go to benefit GleanSLO.


  • 2 – 1 month U-Pick Apple pass
  • 6 – ½ Gallon Apple Cider Certificate
  • 6 – 5 lbs U-Pick Apples Certificates

14 Total chances to win and all helping a good cause in the meanwhile.

Please print your name, phone number, email and your raffle ticket number on the Raffle Form. We will announce the winner; if you are not present we will contact you to collect your prize.

Good Luck Everyone!


Apple Pie Baking Contest:
*Must pick apples from SLO Creek Farms Orchard the week before and make your own pie crust.
Bring your apple pie to the baking table by 12:00pm and leave your name, recipe, and phone number at the registration booth, so we can contact you if you are one of the 3 winners. Recipe will be published in our recipe book for all to see and try, with your name next to it, so make sure it is an original or your own twist to it.

Apple Pie Baking Contest will be held around 3:00pm.

*1st place winner will receive a free months pass to pick apples, a jug of cider, apple chips, and an apple pie cookie.

*2nd place winner will receive a 10 free pounds of apples, plus a jug of or cider, apple chips, and an apple pie cookie.

*3rd place winner will receive a jug of our cider, apple chips, and an apple pie cookie.


Apple Harvest Art Contest 2014
Enter to win!!! The Apple Harvest Art Contest 2014!!!
Held at the Apple Harvest Festival October 12, 2014

Draw, paint, photograph or create a sculpture of beautiful apples. Finished piece will be showcased at the Apple Harvest Festival October 12, 2014 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm

***Bring your finished pieces to the Apple Harvest Festival at the SLO Creek Farms Organic Herb Garden October 12, 2014 between 10am-12pm.
Please put the name of your art piece on the front of you art piece, and also your full name, contact number and email taped to the back of the frame.
Call (702)245-3135 for questions.

Be inspired. Create. Have fun.
All levels of artists welcome, Amateur or Professional.


You are welcome to go get inspired by wondering the SLO Creek Farms apple orchard with all the fall season apples on the tree at SLO Creek Farms from now till October 12, 2014

3 Categories:
*Kids 12 and under
*Ages 13 and up Amateur
*Ages 16 and up Professional

Contest prizes:

1st Place winners- Seasons Pass Apple Picking 2015
2nd Place winners- Months Pass Apple Picking 2014
3rd Place winners- One Week Pass Apple Picking 2014

So bring your 1/2 gallon empty jug and come celebrate with us. The apples are AMAZINGLY delicious right now and we want you to enjoy them as much as we do.

Looking forward to celebrating apple harvest season with all our apple friends,
Love, GleanSLO and

The Gable Family
SLO Creek Farms
6455 Monte Rd
SLO,CA 93401