Category Archives: Uncategorized

Meet Marv & Pet

Hi Marv!

I would love to interview you both!!

*We are Honored

Happy anniversary!! And happy belated birthday to Pet!

*Thank you

You two are so inspiring!!

*May we take a bow?

I was out of town this past weekend but I hope the event went well!!

*Almost 400 people attended the scion exchange It was a cold day.  I grafted more than 11 scions in less than two hours.

Please introduce yourself and share a little about your background (this could be where you grew up, or how long you’ve been in the area, your work, schooling, hobbies/interests? Maybe a few sentences?

* Marv grew up on his grandparents ranch in Peach Tree Valley. He attended schools in King City.

* Pet was born in England, lived in Africa where her father was a farmer in East Africa. Swahili was her first language.

* We’ve lived on the Central Coast since 1991. Pet worked for the Census Bureau. Marv worked for an utility company until his retirement He worked on low and high voltage lines including 500,000 volt lines while energized.

Has anything been surprising as you learn more about food access and hunger in our community?

* The surprising fact was how many people in the county didn’t have daily nourishment they needed for a healthy life style.

We’d love to know about the other work you’ve done previously

* Pet has worked several completely different lines of work starting out in a Telegraph office and she was a raisin farmer in the San Joaquin Valley where Pet taught Marv about Gleaning.   Marv grew up in a family farming operation and started driving tractor as a pre teenager. Hay, and grain farming along with cattle, swine and sheep were his family’s lively hood.  The only produce Marv grew was in the home garden.

Any other community involvement and what inspires you to be involved and give back to the community?

* When living in Coalinga we were both volunteers on the Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee and were representatives in Sacramento.

Do you have any ideas about the future of GleanSLO and the vision for a healthy community?

*GleanSLO has a steering committee and they work closely with the Food Bank.    As long as people keep providing produce to harvest GleanSLO volunteers will be needed.

How can we improve our work and our reach?

*Praise the volunteers. Word of mouth is an inexpensive method of advertising gleaners are needed.

How do you see GleanSLO making a difference locally?

*We see GLEANSLO making a difference daily. Many people would not have any chance to eat healthy food without GLEANSLO, the Food Bank Coalition and the volunteers.  You may spread the word that volunteers are a necessity to making the program run smoothly.

Do you have a favorite fruit or veggie recipe you’d like to share? Or a resource of where you find inspiration for cooking or healthy eating?

*We have more that 75 cook books all trying to be the Healthiest Cook Book.


Anything else you’d like to share about GleanSLO or a story that might be of interest to our readers?

*We both enjoy promoting what we believe in, especially to help the community and others. We are life members of CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers) and on a teaching team.  We travel to schools to teach students why grafting is needed and how to graft.   At one of those schools we met Carolyn Eicher.  When Carolyn, CLEANSLO co-founder was starting the gleaning program she recruited us for some help. As CRFG members we were able to help manage an orchard in See Canyon. We have also recruited a few people to help in the fields and backyards.

Marv & Pet Daniels

Learn How to Preserve Your Gleaned Produce

Food preservation has been a critical activity throughout the history of civilization, even pre-dating agriculture. The most common means of food preservation have been used since the beginning of history and similar techniques can be found across the globe.
For more than 100 years, UCCE has worked with communities across the state to address economic, agricultural, natural resource, youth development, and nutrition
issues. For more than 30 years, UCCE Master Food Preserver volunteers have shared research-based home food preservation information with the public.Come check out the Master Food Preserver Spring Schedule!

Visit the Master Food Preserver Website here! 

Butternut Squash and Green Curry Soup


  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil or neutral-tasting oil
  • 3 medium shallots, diced
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium butternut squashes (about 4 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into about 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 (13 1/2-ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons Thai green curry paste, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 to 4 cups water or chicken stock, preferably homemade


  • ¾ cup raw peanuts
  • ¾ cup unsweetened raw coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 small dried red chiles, such as Japones or chiles de árbol, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon neutral-tasting or melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 10 lime leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Handful of Thai or Italian basil leaves
  • 2 to 3 limes, quartered
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Melt oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add shallots, ginger, lemongrass and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are tender and just starting to brown, about 18 minutes.
  2. Add squash, coconut milk, curry paste, 3 tablespoons fish sauce and 3 cups water or stock. Increase heat to high. When liquid comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook the soup covered until squash is tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Make garnish while soup cooks: In a medium mixing bowl, toss together peanuts, coconut flakes, fish sauce, chiles, 1 tablespoon oil, the minced lemongrass, the sugar and the lime leaves, if using.
  4. Spread mixture out onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes after the first 10 minutes. Remove from oven when coconut is deep golden brown, and pour mixture immediately into a bowl to prevent overcooking. Stir to combine, and set aside.
  5. Remove soup from heat. Remove lemongrass stalks from pot. Use a hand blender to purée soup. Alternatively, transfer soup in batches to a blender or food processor and purée. Taste and adjust for salt and curry paste. Add water or stock to thin soup to the desired consistency.
  6. Thinly slice the basil leaves and arrange on a small plate or platter, along with lime wedges and peanut mixture. Serve soup hot with garnishes.


Persimmon Cookies by Raw Food Betsy!

1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or substitute brown sugar)
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flax with 3 Tbsp warm water – let sit about 10
minutes to thicken)
1 cup persimmon pulp
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the applesauce, coconut palm
sugar, flax egg and persimmon pulp in a small mixing bowl. Mix well until
In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt,
cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Stir to combine. Then, add the wet
ingredients to the dry and mix well. Hand stir in the chopped nuts and
Bake cookies for 10 -12 minutes at 350 degrees.
Raw Food Betsy Notes: I like to use a small food scoop to get the cookie dough from
the bowl onto my baking sheets because this is a sticky cookie dough. Alternatively,
you can wet your hands with water before handling the cookie dough to prevent sticking


Meet our new Program Manager, Roxanne

 —Please introduce yourself and share a little about your background (this could be where you grew up, or how long you’ve been in the area, your work, schooling, hobbies/interests? Maybe a few sentences?

Hello! I’m Roxanne and I grew up in the hills of the Bay Area. I attended Sonoma State University where I met my husband who was a San Luis Obispo local, which brought me to this special town in 2014. My husband and I are both farmers. I prefer the title of “lady farmer”. We have a 2 acre organic farm which is cultivated with lots of love. In my spare time I enjoy taking trips up and down the coast with my husband and our two dogs.

— When and how did you hear about GleanSLO?  What interests you about the work we do? Would love a personal story or connection about what gleaning means to you, or why you decided to get involved, etc.

My relationship with GleanSLO began when our farm needed some help while we were out of town. GleanSLO harvested our rapidly growing zucchini for two weeks. This was the start of a beautiful relationship.  Since then, we have used them many times. Between gleans and donations I slowly began to know many of the GleanSLO and Food Bank team. Everything about GleanSLO interests me. I hate to see produce go to waste for multiple reasons, the biggest one, being that we live in a country where many people are food insecure, yet we have more than enough produce to feed the nation. To end hunger we need to live sustainability and GleanSLO aims to follow these guidelines. Being a farmer gives me a deep connection to GleanSLO because I have seen the abundance and the need in my community.

–Has anything been surprising as you learn more about food access and hunger in our community?

I was surprised by how many food access programs currently exist. It was very uplifting to learn about the programs and to know there are so many passionate people in my community.

-We’d love to know about the other work you’ve done previously — or other community involvement and what inspires you to be involved and give back to the community?

While in college I had an internship at Petaluma Bounty, a wonderful urban farm in Petaluma, California that provides CSA boxes to low income families. The chance that I could be making someone’s life a little bit better is an inspiring thing. Access to healthy food is something many of us take for granted. As a society, we need to have a stronger connection to our produce and be aware that not everyone has easy access to healthy produce. I am a firm believer that if we want to change the world, we need to start with our own community.

–Do you have any ideas about the future of GleanSLO and the vision for a healthy community? How can we improve our work and our reach? How do you see GleanSLO making a difference locally?

I think GleanSLO has a magnificent future ahead of itself. As the idea of reducing food waste and feeding our community becomes more prominent, GleanSLO will only have a bigger following.  I am excited to help improve GleanSLO’s connection with North County residents and farmers. GleanSLO has already made a difference locally by providing fresh produce to food insecure residents. This program also educates community members about the need for gleaning. GleanSLO’s impact will only grow as we continue to reach more people.

—Do you have a favorite fruit or veggie recipe you’d like to share? Or a resource of where you find inspiration for cooking or heathy eating?

My favorite recipe is roasted (homegrown) potatoes with a homemade aioli!  Since my husband and I take home our own produce from the farm every night, our inspiration is usually from what we have in surplus quantities. For example, we have been eating tomato soup every night!

—Anything else you’d like to share about GleanSLO or a story that might be of interest to our readers?

I eat my weight in squash come winter!



GleanSLO interview with Dylan Jones, AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator


Interview by Roxanne Sanders and Carolyn Eicher

  • Please introduce yourself and share a little about your background. 

Hi I am Dylan Jones and I was born and raised in Santa Maria, CA. While growing up on the central coast,  I spent a lot of my time playing sports. I went to Willamette University in Salem, Oregon where I ran track and played football. Willamette is where I found my passion for the environment, while getting my degree in environmental science and geography. In my free time I love to garden and stay active.

  • When and how did you hear about GleanSLO?  What interests you about the work we do? Would love a personal story or connection about what gleaning means to you, or why you decided to get involved, etc.

I first heard about GleanSLO through the organization AmeriCorps. I love what GleanSLO does for a few different reasons, such as the waste reduction aspect of gleaning. While in school, I had experiences with different homeless populations. These experiences made me want to make a difference in people’s lives and this is a great way to give back to my community.

  • Has anything been surprising as you learn more about food access and hunger in our community?

I was surprised by our donating farmers’ willingness to share their crop, as well as how helpful they are during a glean. I had not realized how tilling under edible  produce can be to be a waste of potential food and energy. It was great to hear directly from farmers, no matter their scale, how thankful they are to have their produce harvested and shared with our community in need.

  • We’d love to know about the other work you’ve done previously — or other community involvement and what inspires you to be involved and give back to the community?

A few summers ago, I worked with Meathead Movers. I loved being able to tell customers that the company was started by two brothers from SLO who saw a need for a local moving company.  There’s something special about using an organization created by your community, for your community.

  • Do you have any ideas about the future of GleanSLO and the vision for a healthy community? How can we improve our work and our reach? How do you see GleanSLO making a difference locally?

My favorite part about GleanSLO are the backyard harvests. Homeowners love knowing that their yard’s bounty is distributed locally to those in need. It’s always impressive doing the large gleans and seeing the massive amounts of produce brought in. The largest glean I’ve been a part of was 4,300 pounds of apples! Whether large or small, our gleans provide nutritious produce to our food insecure residents and serve as community building moments. I love to be a part of this process.


  • Do you have a favorite fruit or veggie recipe you’d like to share? Or a resource of where you find inspiration for cooking or healthy eating?

Healthy eating is not my strong suit (at the moment!) but I take pride in my kale smoothies! My go-to smoothie is a combination of almond milk, ice, kale, celery, apple, and flax seed. Blend on high until smooth.  Add agave nectar if needed and blend again. This recipe keeps me gleaning all day!

  •  Anything else you’d like to share about GleanSLO or a story that might be of interest to our readers?

I know my time has been short here, but I already love GleanSLO. The work we do and the way we do it is extremely inspiring, I’m still amazed that I get to paid to work here!

GleanSLO Interview with Food Bank Children’s Programs Manager Heather Donovan

GleanSLO Interview by Josh Ayers

GleanSLO staff is often asked how our gleaned produce is distributed. There are many answers to that question, which includes more than 100 monthly distributions county wide and direct distribution to Food Bank Partner Agencies. This month we wanted to focus on one unique type of distribution where gleaned produce is going out to our county’s hungry residents. We interviewed Food Bank Children’s Programs Manager Heather Donovan to give some insight on the Food Bank’s Children’s Farmer’s Market Program, which helps distribute our gleaned produce—on the same day as the harvest in some instances—to children at select county schools where 60 percent or more of students qualify for free or reduced lunches. The program has been a great success and it’s a delight to hear stories from Heather about kids getting excited about the specialty crops we harvest such as beets and spaghetti squash. 

  • SalvadorTell us a little about your role and how you got started in the Food Bank Children’s Programs.

I am passionate about nutrition and believe in the importance of good nutrition starting at an early age. I was so excited to join the food bank team and especially as the Children’s Programs Manager. I oversee the food bank programs for 18 years and younger, which includes our after-school snack program, summer meals, summer breakfast bag, and children’s farmers market.

  • What is a Children’s Farmer’s Market and how many of them are there in San Luis Obispo County?

Every child leaves our farmers market with 10-15 lbs of fresh fruits and vegetables, but this program is also an interactive and enriching experience. At our market sites, the older children are the “vendors,” who sell the produce to the younger kids shopping at the market. Each child is given ten “food bank bucks” to purchase 8-12 different types of fruits and vegetables. The kids are picking and buying the produce by themselves, which gives a sense of ownership. This feeling of pride makes the kids excited to take the produce home to their families, cook with it, and eat it! Our nutrition education team comes to the markets to provide a tasting, recipe, and lesson, incorporating produce being provided at that particular market. We also play educational games, including the “mystery box,” where a child reaches their hand into the box and has to guess what fruit or vegetable is in the box without seeing it. We currently have 16 markets throughout the county,  with shoppers in pre-school to high school.

  • MaggieAre there other programs like this outside of SLO County? If so, where and how are they different?

Other food banks have markets for children, however with the kids as vendors, “food bank bucks,” nutrition education team, educational games, we have put our own unique twist on the children’s farmers market program!

  • How many children do these markets serve on a monthly basis? 

We have over 1,200 kids who participate in our children’s farmers market program each month.

  • How does GleanSLO produce fit into the Children’s Farmers’ Market Program?

Group MarketGleanSLO provides the more unusual produce for our markets that really gets the kids excited and asking questions! From different kinds of persimmons, bok choy, and spaghetti squash just to name a few, some of the kids are not accustomed to seeing these produce items in their homes. This allows us to educate the children on the unusual fruit or vegetable from how it was grown, how you prepare it, and most importantly letting the kids taste it. The kids go home with the fruit or vegetable they learned about and can then talk to their parents about it, opening up a conversation about fruits and vegetables.

  • Have there been any particular gleaned items that the children really enjoy or prefer? 

In the fall, we had Cinderella pumpkins, which were a huge hit! They were heavy for the kids to hold, but that did not stop anyone.

  • Snack TimeDo kids really get excited about gleaned beets and radishes?! 

The kids get especially excited about anything they haven’t seen before. Items like gleaned beets and radishes are something different. They kids want to learn more about the unusual produce item.


  • Why are these types of distributions important in our county or society?

It is important to introduce and educate children about the many different types of fruits and vegetables. We encourage kids shopping at the market to try new things and to take a little bit of everything home. Having conversations about the importance of eating a variety of fresh foods is important to start early on. Children who participate in our markets have shown an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, contributing to their overall health and well-being.

To learn more about this incredible program, visit:

GleanSLO Interview with Lt Henry Gonzalez of Salvation Army San Luis Obispo

GleanSLO Interview by Carolyn Eicher

I am excited to share with our GleanSLO community some background about the collection of unsold produce that we receive each Thursday night from generous farmers at the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market. In early 2012, our GleanSLO Steering Committee met with Peter Jankay, Administrator of the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association. We envisioned a partnership that would involve a dedicated weekly commitment from GleanSLO staff and/or volunteers, a willingness from farmers to donate excess food that is not sold at the end of the market, and a nearby agency that would partner with us for the collection and distribution of the fresh produce. After many brainstorming sessions to work out logistics, our plan moved forward when in September 2012 we received a grant from the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation to develop and implement this program. Delighted to report that we have just celebrated our 3rd anniversary in September 2015 of this wonderful program! Through our joint efforts, 43,814 pounds of produce has been donated from farmers at the Thursday evening market.

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

I was happy to have a few moments on a Friday morning with Lt. Henry Gonzalez from The Salvation Army when produce from the Thursday market is distributed to their clientele.

  • Please tell us about who you are and what you do.

My name is Lt. Henry Gonzalez. I am the Corps Officer at The Salvation Army, San Luis Obispo Corps.  I grew up in Los Angeles.  I consider myself a city guy and have always enjoyed the perks that came with that; Disneyland, Museums, Laker Games, Hollywood, etc.  In 2013 I was commissioned as a Salvation Army Minister and was appointed to the beautiful and quiet town of San Luis Obispo.

  • We’d love to know about your previous work. Anything that inspires you to be involved and give back to the community?

Before becoming a Salvation Army Officer, I had a few different jobs.  From being self-employed to delivering medications to different doctor’s offices and hospitals to becoming a Sound Engineer/Technician for a few years.

 Since the age of 12, I was involved with The Salvation Army in Santa Ana, CA, through their summer camps, feeding the homeless programs, Sunday Open Air’s, etc.


Photo by Carolyn Eicher

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

  • Can you share a personal story about being involved with GleanSLO and collecting fresh fruits and veggies at the market?

Being part of this Partnership with GleanSLO has been an amazing experience because it takes me back to my teen years of involvement with The Salvation Army in East Los Angeles.  At that time, they had a Partnership with the Los Angeles Food Bank who would donate canned goods, produce and cereal for us to give out to the East Los Angeles Community.  This is exactly what’s being done here through The Salvation Army thanks to the doors which have been opened by GleanSLO to serve our San Luis Obispo Community.

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

  • Anything you’ve learned about our local farmers who share with us each week?

The thing that I’ve learned from our local farmers is……They are Generous!




  • Can you describe the variety of food that we receive from the farmers at the market? How is this food distributed through The Salvation Army?

We receive Lettuce, Tomatoes, Squash, Cilantro, Zucchini, Potatoes, Apples, Nectarines and many other types of produce.  All this variety of food is distributed every Friday morning.  We have volunteers come in to wash any produce and sort before it is given to our San Luis Obispo Community Clientele.

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

  • Do you have any ideas about the future of GleanSLO and the vision for a healthy community? How can we improve our work and our reach?

 I’m aware that the GleanSLO Vision is to make the San Luis Obispo Community aware about healthy eating.  So far they have done a great job about it and will continue to do so.


  • Thank you so much Lt. Henry!


Photo by Carolyn Eicher

If you are interested in helping out as a GleanSLO volunteer at the market, please email us at or call (805) 835-3750. We are always looking for volunteers who can help out on Thursday evenings  from 7:45-9:00 pm.

We would like to thank Peter Jankay, Administrator, San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association, The SLO Downtown Association, the San Luis Obispo County Farmers’ Market Association and Diane Boyd, The Salvation Army, previous Lieutenants Patty and Juan Torres, current Lt Henry Gonzalez, the generous farmers who donate to us each week,  The California Conservation Corps and the countless volunteers who have helped us each Thursday night. We couldn’t do it without all of you!


Photos on Flickr from our Thursday Night Farmer’s Market Collection:

Interview with Aidan Munoz-Christian, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of SLO County


This summer, Aidan Munoz-Christian, a young leader at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of SLO county contacted GleanSLO about putting on a Fruit Drive with her Church. In the past, we’ve mostly worked with schools on the Fruit Drive program, so we loved the idea of expanding it to a Church. The UU Fellowship has been an incredible supporter of GleanSLO over the years. Aidan did a great job of engaging her congregation and educating others about hunger and food waste. We asked Aidan to tell us a little bit more about why she wanted to do a Fruit Drive and get involved with GleanSLO. Below is her interview.



Interview with Aidan Munoz-Christian

By Carolyn Eicher

Aidan's Fruit Drive Collection

Aidan’s Fruit Drive Collection

“Probably the most impactful lesson I’ve learned is that hunger is a solvable problem. The real problem is food waste and distribution, which is causing millions of people to go hungry.” – Aidan Munoz-Christian


My name is Aidan Muñoz-Christian and I have lived in San Luis Obispo for fourteen years, which is the majority of my life! I was born in Maryland and have also lived in New Mexico and Southern California, but the Central Coast has been my home for the most time. I graduated from San Luis Obispo High School last year and have taken a gap year to explore my interests, travel, and volunteer before heading off to college at Saint Mary’s College of California in the Bay Area.

“I am …motivated to give back from my place of privilege: I feel that it is my duty to serve and engage with those who have less than I do. Also, I am compelled to give back to this community which has nurtured me for the past decade and a half.”

I recently became more interested in food – in terms of where it comes from, how it gets to us, how it nourishes us, how to prepare it, and how it relates to other sectors of health and society – as part of a health and wellness lifestyle change I decided to make this year. Through this process, I have discovered I love to cook (I wouldn’t say I’m very good because I’m very new at it, but I’m learning)! It has also in part led to my work with GleanSLO. My other passions include music (both singing and listening to it), reading and writing, traveling, exercising, and learning. I love spending time with my friends, family, and pets, being outside, riding my horse, hiking, drinking tea and going on picnics!


  • When and how did you hear about GleanSLO? What interests you about the work we do? Would love a personal story or connection about what the fruit drive means to you, and why you decided to organize it?


I had been familiar with the name since about the middle of high school because someone I knew had volunteered with GleanSLO, but I didn’t completely understand what the organization does until I decided to register as a volunteer earlier this year. I have recently become interested, perplexed, and disturbed by food waste and how rampant it is in society today. Furthermore, I’m amazed and inspired by GleanSLO’s efforts to alleviate hunger in our community – which is closely tied to food waste – by making use of what nature has already provided.

The fruit drive is an incredible opportunity not only for me but for everybody involved in it, because it is a way of opening up a dialogue about food justice. My hope is that this in turn will lead to more awareness of these prevalent issues, which is the only way that change can gradually be effected.


I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Luis Obispo County and started this fruit drive as part of the Spiritual Activist Leadership Training I’m participating in, which is a program for young adult Unitarian Universalists seeking social justice. The fruit drive is my individual project, which is a major component of this program. This is where we choose an area of social justice that we feel passionate about – mine being food justice – and then pursue a project to connect our congregations with our community. This, of course, is where my work with GleanSLO comes in!


  • We’d love to know about the other work you’ve done through the UU or other community involvement. Anything that inspires you to be involved and give back to the community?


It has really been this year that I’ve become involved in the community and in matters of social justice. I wish I had started earlier, because there’s so much I want to do! I joined the Social Justice committee at the UU Fellowship, where they are currently working on issues of environmental justice, race equality, and income inequality, among others.


My faith inspires me to be involved and give back to the community, as a core component of Unitarian Universalism is social justice, fueled by the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I am also motivated to give back from my place of privilege: I feel that it is my duty to serve and engage with those who have less than I do. Also, I am compelled to give back to this community which has nurtured me for the past decade and a half. I have learned and grown so much here and it’s the least I can do to say thank you!


  • What did you learn from organizing this fruit drive? Has anything been surprising as you’ve learned about food access and hunger through this process?


I have learned a great deal from this experience. For starters, it’s made me realize just how much work goes into planning an event that from the outside may look simple, and it’s been a test of my leadership and organization skills. I’ve also discovered that I have a passion for food justice and this is something I hope to further pursue.


I am surprised by how many people have abundant produce in their yards! Over the span of two Sundays, we collected 205 pounds of fruits and veggies, and that was only from the people who donated in this congregation of less than 200 members! I can only imagine what the rest of the community is like!


Probably the most impactful lesson I’ve learned is that hunger is a solvable problem. The real problem is food waste and distribution, which is causing millions of people to go hungry. In the US alone, 40% of all food grown and produced is wasted, not to mention worldwide, where a third of all food produced goes to waste. This is a startling truth we must face. There is something all of us can be doing right here and now to eliminate this epidemic. It is reassuring to know that there are organizations like GleanSLO making strides to do this; creating new systems of connection where there were none before. If only the rest of the world would follow suit.


Any favorite fruit/veggie recipe or how you like to eat your local fruits and veggies? Resources, cooking or healthy recipe ideas?
Oh, where to begin! I knew this question would be a tough one, because I could go on and on. But I’ll try my best to keep it simple. First off, I am a huge fan of farmers’ markets, as are many people involved in GleanSLO. My family and I go every week and it is quite an event for us. We get nearly all of our produce at the markets and it’s always such an adventure to see what we can create from it. (I’m really excited for the San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market Cookbook to come out!) It’s also so rewarding (and delicious!) to know that almost all of your meal was made from fresh, local fruits and veggies, and that you are not only consuming nutritious food but that you are supporting local farmers whom you know personally while you’re at it.


In all honesty, I actually hated vegetables until this year. When I decided to start eating healthier, I realized there was no way around vegetables. And I can tell you that I have learned to love them. So to all those vegetable haters out there; to all those picky kids, it is possible to change! The key is to find interesting ways to prepare them, which is something I’ve set my mind to this year. There are so many great recipes out there, and I’m constantly trying them out and looking for new ones. But I’ve also learned that cooking is a process of experimentation – it can be kind of intimidating at first to stand in your kitchen staring at a counter covered in veggies without any kind of written instructions to prepare them, but you become more fearless with practice (lots of trial and error…). I love whipping up stir fry, salads, wraps, pasta dishes, soups, frittatas, sautéing veggies for fajitas, roasting them in the oven, putting them out on the grill, and incorporating them into healthier spins of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. As for fruit, I’m basically addicted to it and will eat it anytime and anywhere, without much preparation. Below are some of my favorite simple and healthy ways to enjoy fresh produce.


California Salad


Mixed farmers’ market greens, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, garbanzo beans, roasted corn, and sliced almonds, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette.


Arugula Berry Salad


Arugula, spinach, sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced Granny Smith apples, crumbled goat cheese, and walnuts, dressed with vinaigrette of choice.


Simple open-faced sandwich


Toasted whole grain bread, hummus, avocado, and sliced tomato, topped with microgreens.


Avocadoes are my absolute favorite, so I’m always looking for new ways to prepare and eat them. I’m currently enjoying halving them and baking them in the oven with an egg in the middle, then adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Also, they make a powerful, nutrient-dense smoothie when blended with a banana, plain Greek yogurt, orange juice, and a touch of ginger.


Finally, a great resource is MyFitnessPal. They have bottomless archives of healthy recipes packed with fruits and veggies, and some of my favorites have come from there. It’s an app, but they have a website ( and all recipes can be accessed online.


Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Welcome to Josh Ayers, our new GleanSLO Program Coordinator!

Interview by Carolyn Eicher

Josh Ayers, photo by Carolyn Eicher

Josh Ayers, photo by Carolyn Eicher


GleanSLO has grown and changed over the years and we are happy to welcome each new volunteer, farmer, neighborhood donor, community member and partner!

We are also grateful for the individuals who have become our dedicated and hardworking staff. As we transition and say goodbye to Jeanine Lacore, our enthusiastic coordinator over the past three years, we also welcome her replacement, Josh Ayers. Jeanine and Susan have gleaned and trained with Josh over the past month and have seamlessly transitioned to keep our gleans running smoothly during our busy season of stone fruit and large farm gleans that occur each week!

There are a lot of logistics that go on behind the scenes to pull off each and every farm glean, farmers’ market and neighborhood glean, and in addition there are numerous meetings, with visioning, networking, and brainstorming that happens with our Steering Committee, the Food Bank staff, community partners, statewide gleaning organizations and beyond. We have always found the right people to help continue the vision that we had when we first created our gleaning initiative for our county.  It is our hope that those of you that haven’t yet met Josh will introduce yourselves, share a bit about your experience with GleanSLO, and welcome him enthusiastically as we are.

Josh at a backyard lemon glean, photo by Carolyn Eicher

Josh at a backyard lemon glean, photo by Carolyn Eicher

– Welcome Josh! We are so excited to get to know you, and have the GleanSLO community find out about you and your background.  Please tell us about yourself.


I grew up in Bakersfield and would frequently visit my grandparents in the small town of Shafter, which was about 30 minutes north. I used to love the drive to and from their house because I got to watch the cycles of all the crops being grown and harvested.

In 2006 I transferred to Cal Poly from Bakersfield College and graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Journalism. After graduating I accepted a job at a Santa Barbara-based software company. I lived in Santa Barbara for a year, before moving to Arroyo Grande, where my wife, daughter and I have planted indefinitely. I had held three different job titles at that company, the last being a senior editor for one of its own industry-related magazines, but quit at the end of last year to explore career and volunteer opportunities in the non-profit sector.

I have been an avid gardener and plant propagator (or sometimes a plant killer) since my early childhood and credit my parents and grandparents for giving me those gardening opportunities to learn to like vegetables (cherry tomatoes and French breakfast radishes are still regulars in my garden).

If I’m not gleaning or gardening, I’m probably in the kitchen planning or prepping the next meal for my wife and daughter. I love to cook, especially with homegrown or fresh produce. Outside of the home, I enjoy swimming, hiking, and fishing.

— When and how did you hear about GleanSLO?

Josh at his very first glean with GleanSLO. Photo courtesy Josh Ayers.

Josh volunteering at his very first glean with GleanSLO. Photo courtesy Josh Ayers.

I heard about GleanSLO in the fall of 2013 through the organization’s online listing for a program manager. At that time, I hadn’t had much experience in the non-profit sector, but decided to throw my resume into the arena to see what would happen. I was surprised by a quick call back, but I didn’t get the job at that time. Going through multiple interviews, including one with the GleanSLO steering committee was a great introduction to the GleanSLO program. After those interviews, I started noticing GleanSLO events and logos around the county and continued to follow the program’s growth until I was in a position to dedicate some of my time to gleaning.

My first volunteer glean was arugula at Talley Farms. I was so excited after that first glean that I went straight to Farm Supply and bought my own harvest knife. To this day, I’m still hooked on being out in the fields or climbing trees to get that last piece of fruit, but mostly, I enjoy being around the multitudes of volunteers that come out and share their time, stories, recipes and smiles.

–Do you have any ideas about the future of GleanSLO and the vision for a healthy community? How can we improve our work and our reach?

GleanSLO has already been so successful with its grassroots organization and organic growth, which would not be possible without its incredible base of dedicated volunteers. I want to help GleanSLO continue that growth in a way that will allow it to be true to its mission, vision and values without it, as my grandfather would say, “getting too big for its britches.”

Having said that, I believe there is still a large network of resources and partnerships that we haven’t tapped into that could help our program grow and help to build a healthier community.

Josh gardening at home with his daughter. Photo courtesy Josh Ayers.

Josh gardening at home with his daughter. Photo courtesy Josh Ayers.

I would love to see our program grow in a way that allows us to get at-risk youth involved in fun and meaningful community service, or at the least, provide them an opportunity to garner information about food systems, food waste and the abundant agricultural jobscape that we have in our county.

I would also like to see elected officials in SLO County embrace California Assembly Bill 551, which allows for counties or counties and cities to establish urban agriculture incentive zones, or in other words, areas where individual properties (think parking lots or vacant investor properties) that can be zoned as “urban agriculture preserves” where small-scale farming can take place.

Not only could this potentially expand our gleaning opportunities, but it could also allow for greater community involvement in the local food production network, as well as increase farming opportunities for potential growers who otherwise would not have access to large sections of land. These zones have already been created in other parts of the state and if they were to be created here, I would love to eventually see a volunteer-run GleanSLO urban farm or garden that we could harvest from.

–Do you have any favorite recipes to share, or how you like to eat/prepare your veggies? We love to find out about healthy tips and ideas to share with our GleanSLO community.

I have too many favorite recipes to list! Most of those recipes hinge on memories of eating them with close friends or family (or both), and each one of them tend to mark certain eras of my life of when I first tried or was shown a way to prepare a fruit or vegetable that I had not liked up to that point in time.

As for how I like to eat my veggies—I prefer to use my mouth. Seriously though, how I eat them depends on the type of vegetable and who might be eating them with me. Ten years ago kale was just a garnish to me. Then about five years ago, my wife, Kate, made a kale salad from a recipe that she got from her sister, where she massaged it with avocado, salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice and sesame oil and then added in strawberries, sunflower seeds and goat cheese.  If Kate and I are eating kale, it’s pretty much certain that we will be having some variation of that salad. If it’s just me eating kale, I like to braise it Southern Style, in broth with apple cider vinegar, onions, and garlic.

Resources for cooking are everywhere. I prefer word-of mouth recipes from friends, coworkers and family members and particularly recipes without strict instructions, as it allows some flexibility for experimentation and personalization.

To this day, the only gleaned item that really gets me still is loquats. I first tried one from a local San Luis Obispo tree a few years ago.  They are so delicious as-is, but I haven’t really had the opportunity to expand past that.  If I do end up taking a stab at preparing a dish with them, I will probably go in the direction of preserves or jam, or try to use them as a sweet and tart component of a basting sauce for poultry or fish. I imagine they could be incorporated into salsa as well.


We hope you get a chance to meet Josh in person soon, at a glean or out and about around Arroyo Grande or San Luis Obispo. Josh is your go-to guy for  registering your tree, scheduling a glean or signing up to volunteer. Josh can be reached at or 805-235-1180.