Melissa Cruse

Walnut Creek/Concord Area Harvest Leader

Since moving to the Bay Area with my husband and two daughters in 2015, I began looking for ways to connect with my new community. My introduction to gleaning came in 2017 when I saw a call for volunteers to harvest excess fruit at a local orchard. I volunteered and was immediately hooked! I inquired about helping more and was told that there was plenty of fruit that went to waste and what was needed was more volunteers and people to lead those harvests. I decided to get off the sidelines and become more involved with an organization that was directly solving problems.

I found myself pulled in by the mission and the work. It felt like harvesting was in my blood, my mother having grown up on a farm in Italy. I learned early on about conserving and making the most of what we had. Doing the work of harvesting instills a respect for our food and those who work to provide it, and an understanding of the widespread waste that occurs yard by yard, farm by farm.

At each harvest I learn something new and meet wonderful people and the experience is fulfilling in so many ways. At the end of the day when I deliver hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit to those in need, it’s wonderful to know that the efforts of a few dedicated volunteers can have such a direct effect on people in our communities!

In my spare time, I also enjoy volunteering with other food justice non-profits, hanging out with my family, baking, and spending as much time creating pottery as possible.

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