ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. - Under the bright sun at Talley Farms near Arroyo Grande, a team of volunteers were hard at work in the fields Thursday morning. For two hours, the men and women donated their time harvesting golden beets for a local program called Glean SLO.
"We're a program with the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County," said program director Joshua Ayers. "We work with farmers and homeowners and rescue food that would otherwise go to waste."
Created in 2010, Glean SLO has harvested over 800,000 pounds of found, which has been distributed to thousands of families who rely on the services of the Food Bank Coalition.
"In San Luis Obispo County, one in six families, 46,000 people suffer with insecurity and those are the people that we're are getting it out to," said Ayers.
Food is gleaned, or "rescued," at various locations throughout the county, from farms to private residences. The food is perfectly fine to eat, but is perhaps too small to sell, has minor cosmetic flaws, or may be is unwanted by a homeowner.
"Most of it would be plowed under," said volunteer Susan McTaggart. "There's nothing wrong with this, but because maybe it's time to plant something else and they have surplus food, it's going to go to waste, and so it's just a wonderful opportunity to harvest it and give to people that need it."
Dozens of volunteers donate their time to the program. Many are retirees or college students. Some have been gleaning since the first year, including Marvin Daniels, who was among the group at Talley Farms.
"We're gleaning because we know that there are people in the county that depend on healthy food that they wouldn't normally be able to have," said Daniels.
Food that has been saved and distributed by Glean SLO runs the gamut, and includes just about every fruit and vegetable imaginable. Ayers says if it's grown in San Luis Obispo County, it's likely been gleaned by the program.
Daniels agreed, noting all the different types of produces he's harvested through his years of service.
"Brussel sprouts, artichokes, avocados, peaches, plums, nectarines, apples, beets, spinach, corn and tomatoes, lots of tomatoes," said Daniels.
For the second consecutive year, Glean SLO is the primary beneficiary of Wine, Waves & Beyond, the popular lifestyle event scheduled to be held in San Luis Obispo County next week.
"We're just so grateful to partner with Wine, Waves & Beyond," said Ayers. "It's a blast working with them. It's a really fun event."
Ayers notes donations received last year from Wine, Waves & Beyond helped Glean SLO purchase much needed supplies.
"The proceeds that we receive from that help us keep our equipment stocked and maintained, allows us to purchase things, so wonderful working with Wine, Waves & Beyond and we're very grateful," said Ayers.
For those interested in attending Wine, Waves & Beyond, which directly benefits Glean SLO, you can find more information at www.winewavesandbeyond.com.