"The Lemon Lady" gathers surplus food for local food banks and pantries

"The Lemon Lady" gathers surplus food for local food banks and pantries

Anna Chan, also known as The Lemon Lady (her blogging moniker), has combined two old-fashioned concepts-gleaning produce and doing good.

Chan, who lives in Clayton, an East Bay suburb in Northern California, is on a one-woman campaign to feed the hungry in her community. The determined do-gooder, who grew up hungry herself, started asking neighbors if she could harvest their excess crops and the response was overwhelmingly positive. She's given away more than 100 tons of produce in the past two years. Now she also forages farmers' markets for free surplus edibles. She hauls the bounty in the family SUV to local food banks and pantries.

Similar food-foraging efforts are sprouting across the country, such as The Portland Fruit Tree Project in Oregon and the Lexington Urban Gleaning Network in Kentucky. There are also growing numbers of groups like the Vermont Foodbank Gleaning Program that donate surplus from farms. The premise behind these volunteer missions is much the same: Sharing abundance with people in need creates good will and good dinners.

If you or a friend or neighbor has excess produce to donate, check out neighborhoodfruit.com or veggietrader.com-both sites help backyard farmers find good homes for their excess bounty. Happy harvesting!

January/February 2011