The Art and Practice of Gleaning: Historical, Cultural, and Modern Perspectives

Grazyna Fedorowicz
Course Instructor

Director of #ForestrGleans

It was clear from the earliest days that I would spend my life helping people and animals. As a molecular diagnostic product development scientist, I strive to help patients get faster and better diagnosis and treatment, but the true key to better health is prevention. Sadly, while cancer and immune diseases kill millions of people each year, the most important preventative factors are still being largely overlooked. A clean planet, a plant-filled diet, and a harmonious lifestyle can play tremendous roles in our well-being.

Growing up in Poland, I spent countless hours in my grandparents’ garden, and I always loved harvesting fruits and vegetables. After moving to California, I quickly noticed all the wonderful fruit trees around town, but much of the fruit went to waste year after year. At the same time, thousands of people in the community struggled to provide healthy food for their families. When a gleaning opportunity came up in February of 2020 through the Sanitary District’s ZeroWaste event, my children and I participated in our first community harvest. Shortly after, supported by CVSan’s donation of gleaning tools, we continued harvesting and donating fruit throughout the year and have been doing this ever since.

In 2021, we joined ForestRCleans and later brought the ‘Castro Valley Gleans’ program to the organization. By connecting neighbors and farmers who were willing to share their surplus fruit and veggies with the volunteers who donated their time and energy and with food bank partners who then distributed the produce to people in need, we collectively accomplished quite a bit since March 2020: 40,000 pounds of gleaned goods!

My family enjoys the outdoors, and we often pick up trash in the natural spaces we visit. We also created and regularly maintain a flower and veggie garden for our centenarian neighbor, who enjoys it daily along with all the insects, birds, and squirrels. Staying connected with nature and the community makes us happier and healthier.

Learn more here