This month’s interview is with a very significant partner of GleanSLO, Tom Ikeda, a local farmer, who has offered his time, his knowledge and expertise, and has networked for GleanSLO in countless ways.
“My name is Tom Ikeda. I am a third generation farmer in the Arroyo Grande Valley and my family farms over 800 acres of assorted vegetables as well as citrus and avocados. I am also the current president of Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange (POVE), a cooling, shipping and sales cooperative. I first became associated with GleanSLO about 4 years ago after my son went to the Salinas with a group of students from Mission Colllege Prep High School (MCP) to glean strawberries for a group called Ag Against Hunger. After that trip, I was contacted by Stephanie Buresh from MCP to try to set up a similar organization here in SLO County. I had heard about GleanSLO and suggested that instead of starting a new organization from scratch, we try to partner with them. Contact was made in the fall of2010 and after a few organizational meetings, a partnership was formed. That Spring, we had our first “trial” glean. The next school year, we set up 4-5 gleans in the Fall and another 4-5 in the Spring and have done the same in the past 2 school years as well. This partnership has helped to bring GleanSLO out to larger commercial farms and to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables going to the Food Bank.”
Tom has influenced hundreds of high school students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to work in a field. Students have gained an appreciation for farmers, farm workers, our local food system and the needs of food insecure in our local community.
After a food safety presentation, Tom Ikeda with Dan Sutton, Manager of POVE, demonstrate how to harvest kale at a glean in October 2013. Students gleaned nearly 1,000 pounds of kale in less than 2 hours.