Harvesting through San Jose´

This week we chose to invite one of our harvest leaders to share about his experience with Neighborhood Harvest. Gordon Smith started out as a harvest leader with Garden to Table and continues to share his time and knowledge with us at Veggielution.

A little background on where you are from and what you do in San Jose?
I am originally from Montreal, Canada, and moved to the Bay Area in the 1980’s in pursuit of my future wife. After a long career in high tech in Silicon Valley, I now teach business at DeAnza College.

Gordon explains the harvesting process to our volunteers.

How did you get involved with the Neighborhood Harvest program?
An email announcement about the program was sent out to the distribution list of residents of my neighborhood. Specifically, it was about an upcoming training to be a harvest leader, and I jumped at the chance to participate.

What does it mean to be a harvest leader?
I think the essence of the role of a harvest leader is to make volunteers feel welcome and valued, to make sure the harvesting is done safely and well, to acknowledge the homeowners for their contribution, and to ensure that everyone has a good time in the process. It’s very satisfying work, and a great way to get some outdoor exercise on a Saturday morning!

Gordon is always ready to chat with the neighbors and make new connections.

How do you feel connected to the broader community in San Jose through Neighborhood Harvest?
Our harvest outings to date have taken place in the older residential neighborhoods near downtown San Jose. As a long-time resident — for the past 30 years — of one of those neighborhoods, Naglee Park, it gives me a great feeling to be getting out meeting more of my neighbors while making a contribution to the community.

How do you see food waste as a problem in San Jose?
I really do not like to see good food go to waste when there are people in our own community who need it. Neighborhood Harvest is such a great way to ensure that we can address two needs at once. Homeowners are happy that can harvest the fruit from the trees in their yard and at the same time we provide good fresh food to people in the community who need it.

Please share a story about a memorable harvest.
My most memorable harvest involved a team of fearless harvesters trying to glean the somewhat overripe fruit of a loquat tree in a neighbor’s backyard. The loquat fruit is quite thin-skinned, and when it’s past its peak, it has an unfortunate habit of splitting open and spilling its soft, sweet pulp on the unfortunate picker. After a couple of hours of this, I was drenched in loquat juice from head to toe. Our family dog found me to be a tasty treat when I got home.

Gordon and Silicon Valley Volunteers helped us harvest over 200 pounds of persimmons from this home.