This past Friday instead of a typical harvest, the gleaners jumped into an enormous white suburban (perhaps the largest car many of us had ever ridden in) and made the short drive to the faculty neighborhood. It’s just a block off of the row, yet this beautiful neighborhood feels like a different world. We spent a good chunk of time driving from house to house, keeping our eyes peeled for fruit trees, of which there were many. When we spotted a tree, be it lemon, grape, pomegranate or one of many other varieties, Susannah would slow the monolithic vehicle to five and we would jump out, run to the door, and drop off a gleaning flyer (okay, we actually stopped the car, after all The Stanford Gleaning Project is filled with caring, committed people dedicated to safety).
About thirty minutes in, we pulled up to a big grey house at the end of a cul-de-sac. One of the gleaners, Tim, ran to the door to drop off a flyer. We waited for several minutes, but there was no sign of Tim. Fearing for his safety (as I said, dedication to safety!), we got out of our white tank to see what was going on. Suddenly Tim came running around the corner bearing good news: turns out that the elderly man at the door had a beautiful persimmon tree in the back garden that he wanted us to harvest right then. We went to grab our pickers when the man’s wife came out, wondering what exactly five students, a white suburban and two bright orange pickers were doing outside her house. After we explained what was going on, her face immediately softened. She explained that she and her husband were too old to pick their fruit and they had been waiting years for a group like us to come along. The persimmons were incredible beautiful and we harvested two full bags, one of which we left for our new 80-year old friends. We hope for many more such experiences!
After hitting several more streets, the day ended with the discovery of a large amount of “trash” on the curb. After talking with the kind gentleman who was putting out his unwanted items, we salvaged several planter boxes, bricks for a garden, and a lovely rolling wicker basket perfect for fruit transportation.
Though not a typical harvest, the day was rewarding in so many ways. We ventured into oft-forgotten part of the Stanford community and were rewarded a bag or persimmons, new friends, and, with luck, a new partnership for The Stanford Gleaning Project.