Category Archives: Farm Harvests

Interview with Christine Nelson, Health Education Specialist with UCCE

Interview with Christine Nelson, Health Education Specialist, UC Cooperative Extension San Luis Obispo County by Carolyn Eicher.


So happy to interview you, Christine! Please tell us about yourself.

Local farmers, fresh produce, homemade strawberry jam, and happy kids are the words that

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

Photo by Carolyn Eicher

describe my position as Health Education Specialist for the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). My name is Christine Nelson, and I have the privilege to work with my community at the grass-roots level to help form healthy communities as well as to better our local food system through extending research-based knowledge. Many of our programs tailor to the local needs of our community; for example, the renewal of our Master Food Preserver Program was established to educate local residents on safe home food preservation practices due to the high demand of county interest. (GleanSLO and the Food Bank were also an integral part to get this program revitalized.) We also provide nutrition education programs in schools through the Harvest of the Month program, where we work with local farmers to supply produce, so kids can taste seasonal fruits and vegetables. I can say without a doubt, that I truly love and enjoy my line of work – working with numerous community partners and dedicated volunteers, our programs continue to thrive with the help of these amazing people.

What is your connection to GleanSLO and the Food Bank?

Back to our Roots - Food Preservation

Photo by Jessica Sofranko

In 2013, we partnered with the Food Bank for a USDA Community Food Project Grant, which has resulted in a strong and devoted collaboration with GleanSLO. Together, we have been able to educate and inspire our community on ways they can preserve their rescued produce. I can still remember sitting down with Carolyn Eicher, former GleanSLO manager, in 2012 and brainstorming ideas of how GleanSLO and the UCCE could provide preservation classes to our SLO county community. We discussed the resurgence of food preservation occurring in our community and how the renewal of UCCE Master Food Preserver Program could play a vital role in reestablishing this lost art. Three years later, and with the tremendous help of GleanSLO and volunteers, our discussions and dreams have come alive. We have 13 certified Master Food Preservers (MFPs) for our county. Over a two-year span, they have conducted 13 food bank preservation demonstrations to help recipients preserve their gleaned produce, as well as providing multiple preservation classes to the general public. For every food demonstration, GleanSLO supplies our produce, which enables our MFPs to use fresh and local produce for their demonstrations. It has been a joy to work with every GleanSLO team member to help our community utilize rescued produce in various ways, either by making strawberry jam or by freezing your citrus juice, to ultimately build a local sustainable food system.


When did you first hear about GleanSLO?  and what do you like about GleanSLO? 

The first time that I heard about GleanSLO was when I met Carolyn Eicher, months after starting with the UCCE. She was the one who educated me about this program and the future possibilities of collaboration, and we have been a collaborator ever since. I was captivated and in disbelief, when she shared about the thousands upon thousands of pounds of food wasted in our county, especially when we have hundreds of families suffering from hunger and food insecurity everyday. However, she then told me how GleanSLO salvages local fruits and vegetables, which then goes to feed those families. Again, I was gripped with this paradox and wanted myself and the UCCE to be a part of this amazing program. This conversation is what began the beautiful partnership between the UCCE and GleanSLO.


If I had one word to sum-up GleanSLO, it would be “hope.” GleanSLO provides hope to the farmer, the families, and the community. They rescue food, give to families in need, which impacts the community as a whole. I absolutely love GleanSLO and the heart they have to truly serve our community – Thank You.


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


The opportunities for GleanSLO are endless. From seeing them grow over the years, their drive and purpose will only guide them to go further. Their impact is already evident within the community, and it will only continue to gain momentum as people become more aware of their services and want to become a part of this incredible movement to help build a healthy community.


Health Educators at work

Photo by Christine Nelson

I would love to see more schools involved with GleanSLO. When children are provided hands-on experience, they are creating moments of learning that will forever be with them. It would be an amazing component of our Harvest of the Month program, if some of the kids were able to glean at the farm that was donating to their school, so they could see first hand their local food system at its best. I look forward to the years to come as our partnership continues to bloom as we strive to create a healthy community.



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.

Rescuing Avocados from Drought

Local farmer’s well runs dry – GleanSLO salvages undersized fruit


Avocado farmer Rick Saurwein of Casa Milagro has decided to “stump” his drying, drought ravaged trees. Thousands of branches full of ripe, undersized fruit have been cut down. But before the fruit could rot he called GleanSLO to pick what is salvageable and donate it to the Food Bank.

“My family is very active at Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship and see the value that the Food Bank & GleanSLO provides every week at our Saturday food distribution and the Monday meals that are served at the Vet’s Hall.  We’re very grateful for their service to the community and pleased that we can share the fruit we have with those who need it,” said Rick.

Rick Saurwein will not be able to harvest a new crop for three to four years depending on the weather this fall and if the aquifer fills to an adequate level to support the trees.

GleanSLO volunteers harvested more than 5,200 pounds of avocados from Casa Milagro and donated 214 volunteer hours to salvage the fruit.

More coverage on this story:



San Luis Obispo Tribune

Can’t BEET the fun at Talley Farms!

The Talley family, owners of Talley Farms, have always been invested in the well-being of our community. Their generosity is truly overwhelming. Over the past month, GleanSLO brought several groups of students and community members out to glean nearly 5,000 pounds of beets! Students from Liberty High School in Paso Robles and Mission College Prep High School in SLO were two of the groups who labored in the fields. And we mean it when we say “labored,” they have the blisters to prove it! GleanSLO is grateful for the many people that came together to make these gleans possible.

Additional thanks to Connie Tran at KSBY for featuring a story about GleanSLO during one of the beet gleans:

Click to watch the GleanSLO beet glean featured on KSBY

Click to watch the GleanSLO beet glean featured on KSBY

Beet glean at Talley Farm 14036549937_97ceebc961_b 14291600062_1680ed3437_z 14106921428_f42cd90af2_z 14107030627_6191a8e673_b 14106922348_f54cd9bf0b_b 14238630675_81d7b57002_b

GleanSLO employees, Past and Present

 Photo Nov 19, 3 27 42 PM

GleanSLO employees past and present: from left to right, Carolyn Eicher, Caroline Ginsberg, Jeanine Lacore and Jen Miller, gleaning strawberries at San Luis Berry Farm.

Caroline Ginsberg was visiting from Maine and it was wonderful to reconnect with her, looking back to our roots of how GleanSLO was started.

Photo Nov 19, 3 25 11 PM

Tutti Frutti Farms and Veggie Rescue to the rescue!

A HUGE thank you to Tutti Frutti Farms who donated heirloom tomatoes to Santa Ynez’s Veggie Rescue  and who then turned around and donated 2,269 pounds of what they received to us. And Veggie Rescue even drove the donation and delivered to our Oceano Food Bank warehouse in their wonderful van!

Jeanine Lacore and Carolyn Eicher, GleanSLO Coordinators, had the opportunity to meet Terry Delaney from Veggie Rescue when we attended a gleaning conference in San Jose this year.

This work is all about community and helping each other!

We just got notice that there is another state-wide gleaning conference to be held in November 2013, and we look forward to more connections to be made and friendships formed. We love this work!Veggi Rescue tomato collage



California Agricultural Leadership Foundation

Yesterday, GleanSLO had an opportunity to work with a visiting group from the Washington DC Exchange Fellowship Program from the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation. Thank you to grower Tom Ikeda and Ikeda Brothers, Dan Sutton, General Manager of POVE, and this wonderful group who gleaned 549 pounds of beautiful romaine lettuce!

Through gleaning, we become friends with farmers, learn about the variety of crops grown around our county, meet all kinds of groups and amazing people, and drive away each time with more food in the Food Bank truck than what we started with!

IMG_1527 IMG_1532

Cal Ag Leadership GleanPhotos: Carolyn Eicher


Sweet Corn! Another harvest Tuesday, 8/6

Dianne Group photo! Kimberly Nell, Sarah and Kathy

Last Thursday we had 7 new volunteers show up to help us glean sweet corn in Templeton. Thank you again to farmer Steve Lechuga for the generous donation.
We have another harvest scheduled for Tuesday, August 6th with a few spots left.New volunteers welcome!! Will you be one of those fresh faces in the field? Register as a volunteer on our website if you haven’t done so already!

Photos: Jeanine Lacore

Sweet Corn Harvest!

GleanSLO recently harvested sweet corn for the first time in our history thanks to the generosity of farmer, Steve Lechuga!  Steve has a field in Tempelton and sells his sweet corn around the county at various Farmers’ Markets.  He knew about GleanSLO because of our weekly Templeton Farmers’ Market Produce Collections.  We were lucky enough to get a crew of 6 volunteers out in his field early Tuesday morning to help pick 1728 pounds of sugar pearl sweet corn!  Everyone agreed after a taste-test right there in the field that it was the best corn they’ve ever tasted.  We are so grateful that we could drop this delicious corn off at the Paso and Oceano warehouses to be distributed to those community members in need.  Thank you Steve Lechuga, our volunteers from the Templeton Farmers’ Market Collection and our hard working gleaners!

CIMG0110 CIMG0112 CIMG0116 CIMG0118Photos: Jeanine Lacore


PepperCreek Family Farm

Thanks to two volunteer gleaners for offering blog posts today, Paula Lorenz and Nell Wade!

Guest post by Paula Lorenz:

I recently moved to the Central Coast from Wisconsin. I had been very involved in the local food scene: volunteering at the farmers’ market, helping to get a program to use food stamps at the farmers’ market going, running another program to get customers more connected to their food and the people who produced it. I had heard of gleaning by way of a French movie that I still haven’t seen, but knew of no such organization until moving here.

I found the announcement to glean hydroponic lettuce on Friday, May 10th on Facebook and went to sign up. This is my third experience gleaning and my first opportunity to see working hydroponic systems. What an impressive space! Four volunteers plus a member of the farm staff had the 300+ heads of lettuce (125 pounds!) cut and packed in about 30 minutes.

It feels wonderful to be able to help provide fresh, healthy food to people who might not have it otherwise. It’s an amazing opportunity to go to the farms and explore parts of the Central Coast I might not ever get to see. And I’ve met, and worked with, the nicest people.

eric in greenhouse blog

Blog post by Master Gardener, Nell Wade:

It was a beautiful morning (albeit a bit toasty) inside the hydroponic greenhouse of PepperCreek Family Farm.  We had the opportunity to glean information about farming hydroponically as well as gleaning perfect heads of lettuce – without a trace of insect damage.  The process was quite different harvesting here rather than in a conventional field row.  One long plastic tube houses more than a dozen plants.  No soil anchors their roots and they are watered and fed continuously via a small tube from one end.  The solution exits the other end of the tube and is recirculated again and again.  For harvesting, this tube is put on saw horses making it easier to cut the lettuce heads off at the base.  No mess, no mud, no damage!

Pictured below: Kelly Munoz, Paula Lorenz, Nell Wade and Eric Boyd from PepperCreek Family Farm.

lettuce greenhouse gleaners blog