Category Archives: Backyard Harvests

Meet Deborah Berger, Neighborhood Harvest Leader

GleanSLO trained a dozen Neighborhood Harvest Leaders earlier this year to lead small gleans in their neighborhoods. During these summer months, stone fruit is ripening early… and all at once… all over the county. We are averaging over 10 gleans/week! With minimal support from staff, Neighborhood Harvest Leaders take charge of the small gleans, gather the equipment they need, meet a handful of other volunteers and make sure everyone is safe and having fun while picking the extra fruit. They deliver the rescued produce to a nearby food pantry.

GleanSLO staff relies heavily on the dedication of these Neighborhood Harvest Leaders to get the job done! Here’s a word from Deborah Berger:


1. Why are you interested in gleaning?

“Because I love to cook with fresh produce and eat lots of fresh fruit, and I am aware that not everybody can afford these. I don’t like any kind of wasting and I am happy to contribute to honoring nature’s abundance.”

2. How did you first make contact with GleanSLO?

“Right after I moved from Germany to the USA I wanted to do some volunteer work in order to meet people and be of use for the community, a friend told me about GleanSLO and I signed up on the website and became a gleaner.”

3. What is your favorite part about neighborhood harvests?

“To see different backyards, there’s so much beauty and so much hard work to be admired and people who donate are grateful to see their produce being used for a good cause.”

4. How does gleaning make you feel?

“I love the physical work and that it lasts only 2 or 3 hours, I love being connected to earth and plants and the other gleaners – there are so many interesting people among gleaners, and it’s wonderful to meet them again at another glean.”

5. Have you ever been at a distribution or seen the food you picked be received by a food pantry or hungry family? What was that like?

“I was delivering food to 2 different places, AIDS Support Network and Salvation Army, and it feels good to be appreciated and welcomed by those who distribute the food to hungry people.”

6. Anything else you’d like to share?

“I like the organisation of GleanSLO, the ease and the friendly connections with everybody I’ve met so far. There’s a lot of smiles and laughter to be seen and heard.”

If you would like to become a Neighborhood Harvest Leader, we’ll be training the next group of NHL’s on Saturday, August 23rd. Save the date and stay tuned for more details!

Fruit Drives – a new kind a food drive with a fruity twist

We have all heard about a Food Drive… but a Fruit Drive? Have you ever heard of such a thing? In our region of such abundance and year round edible landscapes galore, we are making Fruit Drives the new norm. _MG_0003Early this year, a passionate group of parents, GleanSLO volunteers and staff came together to give the Fruit Drive idea legs. We loved the concept of reaching out to students, parents and the larger community to pick ripe produce from neighborhood trees to bring to school, where we can collect it for distribution to hungry families. To ensure the Fruit Drive model would become a sustainable program, the group decided to invest the time into creating something replicable, something that would be easy for any parent, student or teacher to implement in their own school, church or civic group. This talented group of volunteers developed a Fruit Drive Kit that is now being used in schools across San Luis Obispo. Read on to learn more…

Our experience with students has shown that the act of collecting fruit for distribution can be an extremely powerful experience, building empathy and connection between students and families in less fortunate circumstances. In addition, the process of sharing food grown in local areas intensifies neighborhood associations between students, their parents, school faculty and the immediate community.

As part of the program we have provided each school with a ‘Fruit Drive Kit’ that will help the collection run more smoothly. The Fruit Drive Kit contains:

  1. One or more banners reminding students and parents to bring in produce, to be hung during Fruit Week.
  2. Two signs: “Our school feeds hungry families” and stakes to display on school property.Sienna small

    3. Two or more Neighborhood Lawn Signs “My garden feeds hungry families” for students and families to see and use to encourage participation. We will provide lawn signs to every home that donates fruit.

    4. A Reproducible Neighborhood Flyer for students and their parents to distribute to neighbors if needed.

    5. A Reproducible Parent Flyer explaining the Fruit Drive and the collection process.

    Thank you for working with GleanSLO and the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County to feed hungry families in your community. 

    For more information or to request a Fruit Drive Kit for your school or group, please email or call 805-835-3750.



    School Fruit Drive Collage 3

    GleanSLO would like to thank the many talented volunteers who have been a part of the development of this project, and who continue to support its growth: Carolyn, Evan, Jahan, Jeanine, Johanna, Lucy, Mavis, Michelle, Olivia, Sienna, and Stephanie.

    Thanks to the schools who have participated in the Fruit Drive program: Bishop’s Peak/Teach Elementary, Hawthorn, Laguna, Pacheco, Sinscheimer, and SLO High!

    Photo credits: Carolyn Eicher

School Fruit Drives, featuring Evan Jenkins

Evan Jenkins, GleanSLO ambassador for student led fruit drives

Evan Jenkins, 6th grader at Teach Elementary, distributed paper bags with flyers announcing his Fruit Drive last month. Evan is collaborating with GleanSLO for the second year in a row to fulfill his Community Action Project. “We were thrilled to see so many bags on porches! Evan knocked on the door of those who had bags on their porches, introduced himself and thanked them.  Often people wanted to shake his hand and thank HIM! It was such a gratifying experience,” said Evan’s mom, Denise. “We met a gentleman who wrote a letter and invited us in. I’m including his wonderful letter. One woman had spotted us, ran out of her house and down the street after us!  She wanted to write a check to the Food Bank.”
Evan collected 124 pounds of citrus and some apples.  One person wanted a sign for their yard: “My Garden Feeds Hungry Families.”  He collected $70 for GleanSLO/FoodBank.

Evan with fruit 2

Evan’s collected fruit was distributed to the Salvation Army where it was gratefully enjoyed by local neighbors in need.

Frank's thank you letter

A letter from Evan’s neighbor. Feeling grateful to be a part of this community – for the volunteers, youth and seniors that are committed to giving back and strengthening the bonds that keep us strong as a community. And feeling grateful for the gift of food that keeps bringing us together and feeding our hungry neighbors!

Now Recruiting for Neighborhood Harvest Leaders!

Announcing a new level of GleanSLO volunteerism:


On Saturday, February 22nd, GleanSLO presents the first bi-annual Neighborhood Harvest Leader training! We are looking for committed volunteers interested in taking on a leadership role within their communities to help expand the Neighborhood Harvesting program. Harvest Leaders will work closely with the GleanSLO staff to scout properties, schedule and lead neighborhood harvests and donate produce to local agencies in your area.

What does it take to be a Neighborhood Harvest Leader?

  • Lead at least 5 harvests over a 6 month period,
  • Participate in a mandatory training on Feb 22,
  • Shadow veteran volunteer or staff for two gleans prior to accepting Neighborhood Harvest Leader title.

 For more information or to sign up, please contact

Jeanine Lacore, or 805-235-1180

Carmela gleaning at Clamshell Farms in 2013. Photo credit: Carolyn Eicher

Carmela gleaning at Clamshell Farms in 2013. Photo credit: Carolyn Eicher

New!!! GleanSLO’s Garden Signs for Homeowners!

Announcing our new GleanSLO
Home Garden Signs!
Thank you to 14 year old Sienna and her family, for designing, creating and donating 100 garden signs for homeowners who will contribute 150 pounds (or more) of produce from their home garden to GleanSLO!! The signs will be loaned to the homeowners to place in their front yard for the season they make a contribution, hoping it helps spread the word about our program, and that we happily receive homegrown produce.
Sienna with oranges

 Pictured: Sienna who designed and created the GleanSLO signs.

garden sign photo   Photo: Sienna’s garden signs.

We’d also like to thank homeowner Barbara Wolcott who called the Food Bank and invited GleanSLO to harvest her backyard orange tree. Barbara was happy to have the first garden sign from Sienna featured on her front lawn!

Orange tree with Barbara Wolcott

Pictured here: Homeowner Barbara Wolcott. Photo: Carolyn Eicher

Every type of harvest is welcome!

Every harvest, big or small is welcome!

This week GleanSLO had the pleasure of harvesting Bosc, Asian and Bartlett pears at the home of Anne Antoon in North County. She generously offered her 3 pear trees and 185 lbs of pears were gleaned from them.
Thank you to volunteers, Heather, Gail and Jordan who coordinated a last minute harvest and who were luckily able to finish before the 100 degree weather kicked in!!
We would love to help you, or anyone you know, to harvest for a GleanSLO donation.
Please give us a call anytime! (805) 235-1180 or (805) 835-3750
Paso backyard pear glean collage
Photos: Heather Morrow

plums are here.

In full force, the stone fruit is happening in SLO County right now! Today’s plum glean was managed by a volunteer harvest team of Chuck and Vince at the Johnson home in Arroyo Grande. We gleaned oranges at this same property last year. At that time, the generous homeowners suggested we contact them in the summer when their 15 Santa Rosa plum trees all start to ripen at once. We remembered the timing, put it on our “season planner” and contacted them a few weeks ago to check in. They contacted us over the past weekend, and within one day, we had 10 volunteers ready to glean. Pictured here is part of the wonderful volunteer glean team that came to the rescue and saved the plums before they dropped…832 pounds of beautiful plums that will be shared and distributed by the Food Bank of SLO County this week! Thank you Johnson family! Thank you gleaning team!

group photo 2 plum trees


Group glean from 7:11:13 marv and pet