San Luis Obispo is fortunate to be a county where successful agriculture means a bounty of fruits and vegetables. After commercial harvests have finished, there still may be hundreds of pounds of produce just waiting in the fields, ready to be picked by kind volunteers. Since March 2011, GleanSLO has collected over 30,000 pounds of apples, oranges, carrots, artichokes, squash, lemons and plums for the San Luis Obispo Food Bank Coalition. GleanSLO has been awarded a $5,000 United Way Innovation Award for its excellence and commitment to the community.
“GleanSLO is not just a program; it’s a movement to purposefully re-engage SLO County residents in farming, healthy eating, and providing nutritious food for those in need,” says Caroline Ginsberg, the program’s founder. Collaborating with other local activist organizations such as Cal Poly STRIDE, SUSTAIN-SLO, Transition Towns, the Central Coast Ag Network, SLO Grown Kids, and One Cool Earth, Glean SLO has become a member of the Central Coast’s philanthropic network.
Like to get involved? Harvests last for about two hours and take place primarily on weekends. There is often little notice for when the events occur, so make sure to be ready with a completed volunteer application, sign up for the newsletter by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, and have some good, comfortable work clothes and a water bottle on hand. Many times, volunteers return home with bags full of produce once gleaning is over. If you have a backyard garden or orchard bounty that you would like to contribute, tools, or cash donations, contact GleanSLO online for more details.
Do something to help end hunger in your community, enjoy the San Luis Obispo landscape, and have some fun!