In Avila WITH Glean SLO: Precious fruit, reclaimed!

Are you annoyed with longtime locals who can't stop humble-bragging about how "lucky we are to live on the Central Coast?" Well, I've totally chugged the kool-aide. You may not want to read on. Today I spent a balmy afternoon surrounded by rosemary, tangerines, and blooming apple orchards in Avila for a story I'm writing for New Times on Glean SLO. Yup. Basically better than heaven.

These rag tag volunteers gather for two hours at a time to pick fruit that would otherwise be left to shrivel on the vine, and donate it to the needy. As one old timer told me from atop his teetering ladder, "It's just the right thing to do." Not only that...it's not a bad way to spend outside buzzing with the bees in the fresh sunshine. The 65-year-old said he was skeptical when he first heard about Glean SLO (how much fun could picking fruit be?), but he was hooked after his first pick. I can see why. I want in on this manual labor. Stat!

Nearly everyone I encountered today couldn't stop raving about the concentrated flavor of these juicy orange orbs (a hard-earned treat!). Something tells me they'll be back soon to pick the forthcoming apple crop nearby. From the likes of these vivacious pink blooms...it will be an epic harvest. Driving back to SLO, I was so overtaken with the bounty of nature that I had to make a pitstop at Miner's to buy some organic veggies (asparagus, lemon thyme, and beets should tide me over for a few weeks). This is an addiction my SLO brethren can probably understand. It all comes with the territory. And it is breathtaking territory.

Photos by Hayley Thomas