Family of Gleaners Volunteer Work Still Fruitful During Pandemic

Gleaning, also known as harvesting extra fruit or vegetables (usually for those in need) has been around for centuries and it is a great way to work outside and give back to the community. During Zero Waste Week in February, for the past three years, Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan) has organized volunteers for a two-hour gleaning event. On February 6th, almost 40 CVSan volunteers gleaned nearly 2,000 pounds of citrus, which was donated to Castro Valley food pantries!                                     
Three volunteers from that event were inspired to continue gleaning and donating fruit to Castro Valley food pantries, so they contacted CVSan. With a little information and two fruit pickers donated by CVSan, Grazyna Fedorowicz, her daughter Agata and son Adam were ready to glean on their own. Beginning in March, the family has gleaned grapefruit, lemons, loquats, and oranges from authorized Castro Valley trees and donated them to Feed the Flock Program at Faith Lutheran Church, Tiny Homes at First Presbyterian Church, and the Farm-acy Program at the Dig Deep Farms Food Hub in San Leandro. What they have done is impressive.

Grazyna says “Healthy foods are medicine and by gleaning we are diverting vitamin-rich food from going to waste while also providing nutrition to our community. This is especially important now due to the hardships the pandemic has caused. Through this activity, we’ve been meeting wonderful neighbors who donated their fruit, including nurses, teachers, and volunteers at local food pantries, an employee of Alameda County Public Works Agency, and even someone who worked on approval of the grant for the Farm-acy. A few people expressed interest in helping with future harvests! This project is such a win-win effort, and I enjoy every minute of it. We will continue as long as people of Castro Valley and vicinity are willing to donate their extra fruit or veggies. It would be wonderful if more people got involved and started doing this as well, all over the Bay Area. So much can be done in just a few hours per week.” Since March, Grazyna and her children have gleaned and donated almost 2,000 pounds of fruit for those in need!

Grazyna says she is grateful for the tools CVSan provided through its donation program. “The fruit pickers CVSan has donated are essential tools, allowing us to glean without the use of ladders, and the buckets come in very handy as well.” If you have any trees or plants that you would like Grazyna and her family to glean fruits and vegetables from, for people in need, then please email her at gleaningcv@gmail.com. When it comes to reducing waste, Grazyna does not stop at gleaning – she has started a communal organics bin program at the Homeowner’s Association community where she is President. In addition she is leading recycling efforts and substituting chemicals and plastics with greener products at both work and home. Thank you, Grazyna for being a shining example of how to reach higher to reduce waste on the path to zero waste!