Talley Caruso

Gleaning Lead for #CastroValleyGleans

Talley Caruso is an ops-director-turned-ESL-teacher who is currently designing a 4-week “Gleaning ESL” course.  This free mini-course for English language learners will be taught in partnership with the Hayward Public Library with the objective of providing opportunities for practicing conversational English while giving back to the community.

How I got into Gleaning

Towards the start of the pandemic, I was house-sitting for my friends who had a plum tree covered in fruit so I made jam, jelly, juice and then ran out of ideas.  Every week, I’d go back and notice dozens of squishy, rotting fruit on the ground and thought …what the HECK am I going to do with all the rest of these plums!

Turns out there are a ton of local food banks that accept fruit that has been gleaned (collected) from local trees as long as they are picked fresh and ripe-ish (but not too ripe).  That summer (2020), my husband and I donated over 100 lbs of fresh stone fruit, gleaned off just 2 trees!  I said to myself, I’ve GOT to do this more often.   It was really relaxing and fun and a great excuse to be outside.

A year had passed; 2021 flew by. It wasn’t until my employer (at the time) Everlane had nudged me with a paid “day of passion,” did I finally look to join an organization that coordinated gleaning events. After some research, I found ForestR and met Grazyna, who in the prior 2 years along with her family, had donated over 8,000 lbs of fruit all plucked within 5 miles of her house in Castro Valley.  What an inspiration!

January 26, 2022 was my “day of passion,” my first day with ForestR.  It was late January, so citrus wasn’t yet ripe around here. I spent the day surveying my neighborhood, walking up and down the hilly streets, leaving a homemade flier with those that likely had more than 100 lbs of lemons or oranges on their trees in case they want a small crew to come harvest and donate the excess in a few weeks time.

Top 5 reasons Gleaning is cool

  1. Gleaning is a great way to get some fresh air and light exercise
  2. Gleaning is a non-awkward way to finally meet your neighbors
  3. Gleaning reduces waste while alleviating food insecurity
  4. Gleaning is a budget-friendly excuse to catch up with friends
  5. With Castro Valley Gleans, volunteers are welcome to take home a small bag of salvageable fruit (slightly damaged or overripe) after separating out the shelf-stable items for donation

Click here if you would like to donate from your garden or would like to become a volunteer!