Gleaning

Do you have a fruit tree? Allow volunteers to pick the extra fruit from your tree for donation to local food pantries. Help us to reduce wasted food and to help others in need. 

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 past Zero Waste Week events, Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan) has organized volunteers for gleaning events that have saved thousands of pounds of fruit that was then donated to local food assistance agencies!                                              

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 set out to glean on their own. Beginning in March 2020, the family has been gleaning grapefruit, lemons, loquats, and oranges from authorized Castro Valley trees and donating the fruit to local charities, including Feed the Flock Program at Faith Lutheran Church, Tiny Homes at First Presbyterian Church, and the Farm-acy Program at 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 the 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, her children, and now other volunteers, have gleaned and donated tens of thousands of 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 fruit and vegetables from, for people in need, then please email her at gleaningcv@gmail.com (Update: Grazyna is now the Gleaning Director at ForestR.org and continues to glean with ForestR volunteers there).

Two volunteer Gleaners produced bags and boxes of fruit such as oranges for donation.

Resources to Help You Go Gleaning:
There is no need to wait for a CVSan event to go gleaning. CVSan encourages community members to organize their own gleaning groups and to donate extra fruit to those in need. CVSan can donate gleaning tools and supplies to help with community gleaning efforts. CVSan has donated many fruit pickers and collection pails to independent gleaners for our events listed below and for organizations like ForestR for their ongoing gleaning efforts. Please submit a Donation and Supply Request Form to contact@cvsan.org or click here to request items for gleaning by noting gleaning tools on the form. To find out more about gleaning, read this helpful article and visit the following resources for information on donating gleaned fruits and vegetables:

Ample Harvest – Donate excess produce to interested local food banks and pantries (over 6,900 are listed nationally).

FallingFruit.Org – Post unwanted tree fruit for others to come harvest. The map is an open-source and shows fruit tree options all around the world (over 600,000 locations, including over 100,000 in California alone).

New Life Christian Church - Food Pantry.
1265 B Street, Hayward (510) 889-1304

Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church - Food Pantry.
20104 Center Street, Castro Valley (510) 581-8950

Faith Lutheran Food Pantry - Food Pantry.
20080 Redwood Road, Castro Valley (510) 582-0818


Tips for When You Go Gleaning:
While gleaning and harvesting extra fruits and vegetables can be done by almost anyone, there are some things to think about to make the experience better for everyone:

  • Always be thinking safety:
    • Stay away from standing on streets or near moving traffic.
    • Use tree fruit pickers that extend taller instead of using ladders.
    • Use caution with fruit pickers around others.
    • Watch for and communicate falling fruit.
    • Use the proper lifting technique of bending at the knees, supporting your back, when lifting containers of fruit or vegetables.
    • Get help with heavy containers of fruit or vegetables.
  • Pick with care:
    • If you can reach the fruit by hand, twisting the item off the stem can save the potential for the top of the fruit to rip off while pulling.
    • Start picking from the tops of trees first, since it’s a nice service to the tree owner and always good to leave some fruit down low on the tree.
    • Bring fruit pickers to pick from tall trees. See the pictures below for examples. CVSan can donate fruit pickers to you by requesting at cvsan.org/DRForm.
    • Clean up leaves and branches that may fall to the ground while picking (debris can go in the green organics cart).
    • Leave unripe fruit (usually much smaller ones) on the tree so they can fully mature later.
    • Try to place fruit into boxes or bins, since tossing may cause bruising.

 

A Look Back At What We Have Accomplished:
CVSan’s community fruit gleanings have helped to reduce wasted food and benefitted local food pantries and food assistance agencies.

Yvonne Wong 385x256_2022-02-12Sue Burg and Carolyn Darcy 385x256_2022-02-09

Independent Tree Fruit Gleaning for Zero Waste Week
February 8-12, 2022

Over 2,500 pounds of fruit was donated.

 

sue and norm gleaning 385x256 for web_2021-10-26

Independent Tree Fruit Gleaning for Earth Day
April 19 – 24, 2021

Over 700 pounds of fruit was donated.

 

A family is gleaning tree fruit on a hill.

Independent Tree Fruit Gleaning for Zero Waste Week
February 1 – 6, 2021

Over 1,500 pounds of fruit was donated.

 

A group of eight volunteers with orange vests gleaning fruit from a tree by a white fence.

Community Tree Fruit Gleaning for Zero Waste Week
February 5, 2020

1,947 pounds of fruit was donated.

 

Crates of fruit that were donated at local church food pantry.

Community Tree Fruit Gleaning for Zero Waste Week
February 6, 2019

1,800 pounds of fruit was donated.

 

Family wearing yellow vests gathered around a tree for gleaning.

Community Tree Fruit Gleaning for Zero Waste Week
February 6, 2018

Over 820 pounds of fruit was donated.