Today’s GleanSLO interview is with Salem Harvest Vice President, Dick Yates.
Can you tell us your background and how you started gleaning?
I worked for the State of Oregon for 30 years. Soon after I retired, four
neighbors on our block in Salem noticed that fruit from backyard trees in our neighborhood was going to waste so Salem Harvest was formed. I signed on to develop the website (which meant first learning from scratch what website development was), and the organization quickly expanded. Now in our fourth season, we have harvested more than 300,000 lbs of food.
What do you enjoy about gleaning?
Seeing families come out to harvests and all being involved in the work.
Kids learn a lot at our harvests. I also like the simple tasks of figuring
out the most efficient way to get the job done and organizing the work so that it runs smoothly. Best might be when we unload the results of the harvest at the local food share and see that it will have a substantial
impact on the food shortage in our community.
What is your most memorable gleaning experience?
A local farmer called to say that five acres of green beans were going to be plowed under in two days. We mobilized nearly 200 volunteers and rescued several tons of food on very short notice. Everything worked smoothly even when our systems were pushed to their limits.
Can you share how you got involved with GleanSLO?
Salem Harvest thought other organizations might find our information
management system to be useful and we were looking around for ones that might be a good fit. Carolyn Eicher inquired about it and we eventually installed a new website for GleanSLO with dynamic database features that enable automating information flow including volunteer and crop registration, scheduling, attendance records, and data reports.
Pictured here: Dick Yates, Vice President of Salem Harvest, a gleaning
organization located in Salem, Oregon.
Carolyn Eicher, co-founder of GleanSLO, has announced that she has decided to step down from the part-time paid position as GleanSLO Program Manager. Carolyn will continue as a member of GleanSLO’s Steering Committee, and also involved as a gleaner, additionally offering her volunteer services in public relations, blogging, and photography. Carolyn helped start GleanSLO, first reaching out to the local chapter of Backyard Harvest in 2009, and has helped grow the program from the first 100 lbs gleaned to now over 245,000 pounds gleaned with its transformation into GleanSLO with the Food Bank.
With the support of the Food Bank, and additional funding, Carolyn and the GleanSLO team happily look forward to finding the right person to replace her for the full-time manager position.
To apply, send a cover letter and resume along with three letters of recommendation to:Wendy Lewis at email@example.com. Please no phone calls.
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!
Photos: Jeanine Lacore
GleanSLO received a private donation to help purchase much needed harvest equipment so we recently bought 3 more harvest bags and 4 orchard ladders. Farm Supply Company donated these two harvest containers with our purchase which will be perfect for harvesting fragile fruit. Stone fruit season is here, and we are capturing as much as we can!
Thank you to our private donor, and to Farm Supply!
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!
We had another successful farmers’ market collection on July 4th, 2013! Pictured below are students Sabina and Greta and superstar volunteer Kelly, along with The Salvation Army team- Jose, Henry and Juan.
We want to thank The Salvation Army for their partnership in our SLO downtown market produce collection program. We are saying goodbye to the amazing husband and wife leadership team of Patty and Juan Torres who are moving away. We look forward to working with the new director, Henry Gonzalez, and are appreciative of Jose, who has consistently worked with us each week at the market over the last year.
Through GleanSLO, many friendships are formed with farmers, volunteers, agencies, and community members. We remain humbled and grateful for the contribution of food, friendship and people giving of their time.
Photo: Carolyn Eicher
We are so touched when people thank us for the work we are doing at GleanSLO. One student from a local elementary school sent this collage along with a thank you note. This was such a creative way to thank us and we just had to share it with our community!
This student not only shared with his school community the work of GleanSLO, but he encouraged families to attend a fundraiser that we were co-sponsoring. He also asked for food donations, and cash donations. Each person we work with helps spread the word in their own way about our work, and the need to help feed people in our community. We are so grateful for this student, and everyone who has volunteered with GleanSLO!
GleanSLO Program Manager, Carolyn Eicher