A Gentleman Farmer, 100 small Lemon Trees, and a group of Senior Gleaners?

The Fragrant Smell of Lemons in the Air, Good Company, Fundamental Truths---everything you ever needed to know you can learn in this garden!

It is quite a wonderful way to spend a morning in a citrus grove, with a group of lovely people, picking fruit to donate to those in need---fruit which otherwise could have gone to waste. But thanks to the Gentleman Farmer Joe, and his lovely organic grove and evolving gardens, 800 pounds of fruit was harvested this day---with a donation value of nearly $800! More to come in another month or so as the fruit ripens.

Some of the Senior Gleaners today have been volunteering to harvest fruit for over 15 years. We are not sure how it all got started, but the urban legend is that two friends came up with the idea during a conversation while admiring a field of produce. One friend said to the other how sad it was that “all that produce” would just be plowed under, instead of using additional labor to harvest it all.

Sometimes, based upon demand, price, and market expectations (even our own personal expectations about foods we buy), it makes more financial sense for a farmer or a small orchard owner to not even pick a crop.  It may cost more to pick it than he can sell it for---and even after all the energy and cost put into the seeds, water, soil, amendments, and labor have already been spent. This does not make sense to me. We can do a better job to price food so that it is equitable, safe, healthful, and abundant for all.

But in the meantime, in San Diego County we have a strong and burgeoning Gleaner Network with five main groups today; Backyard Produce Project, CropSwap, Harvest CROPS, Harvesting San Diego, and Senior Gleaners.  This gleaner network helps to ensure that even more of this produce is harvested using the volunteer hands and minds and hearts that donate, ­­pick and deliver this food to those in need. What a joyful experience to be a part of something that is so wonderful and makes so much sense.

Gleaners in San Diego County rescued over 500,000 pounds of food in 2016, and are set to increase that amount exponentially as programs continue to expand. You can help. if you want to try it, trust me, it’s fun. I want to do it again. Find out more.

If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well­being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources. -Ronald Reagan

Save The Food San Diego

Post by Barbara Hamilton, Director of Strategic Initiatives