By Nita Kurmins Gilson, ProduceGood Co-Executive Director of Programs and Outreach
Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Do you see any citrus trees? They
are all over San Diego, most likely with fruit ripening. Do you see
fruit on the ground, rotting? Doesn’t it feel really bad, really
wrong, to see that kind of waste?
That is exactly why Nita Kurmins Gilson started a grassroots
gleaning group, CropSwap, (now nonprofit ProduceGood)
13 years ago.
“I thought someone should be doing something about this,” she said. “When I couldn’t find anyone, I gathered some friends and family and started gleaning excess fruit and taking it to local food banks. Nobody in San Diego was talking about food waste back then, even though it was literally in their backyards.”
Fast forward to 2023 and ProduceGood has brought the ancient idea of gleaning (farmers leaving some of their crops for the needy to harvest) into the 21st century. ProduceGood recovers excess fresh produce from backyards, orchards, farmer’s markets, small farms and local grocers (like Jimbo’s) every day, having recovered more than 1 million pounds of surplus fruits and vegetables and provided the one in four San Diegans struggling with food insecurity with almost 4 million servings of fresh, nutritious produce since 2014.
More than 3,000 ProduceGood volunteers glean thousands of pounds each week and deliver it to more than 70 partner feeding agencies, including LiveWell Recognized Partners Jewish Family Service, San Diego Food Bank, Feeding San Diego, Interfaith Community Services, Bayside Community Center, Alpha Project, Community Resource Center, ElderHelp, and many more.
Celebrate Earth Month (and every month) by looking around. Look at the beautiful trees that grow in our lush climate. Pick some fruit from your trees to share with neighbors. If there is too much, contact ProduceGood, which can help reduce food waste and hunger by gleaning. You can help our planet and people in one tiny step, one orange at a time.
Caption: Co-Executive Directors Nita Kurmins Gilson, left, and Alexandra White.
Photo credit: Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor