California Cruizin'

Discovering the Hidden Jewels Throughout America's Golden State

SoCal Harvest

on April 12, 2013

Cruzin’ through Long Beach the other day I came across Cindy Goss, a feisty woman with an infectious smile who runs SoCal Harvest, a community serving organization dedicated to harvesting from the community for the community, one backyard at a time.

So, this morning I joined her and an enthusiastic team of five volunteers as they descended on one orange tree in a Long Beach backyard armed with picking rakes and empty fruit  boxes and crates.  IMG_6969


And while swift arms plucked the ripe fruits off the drooping branches, laughter popping, and  IMG_6974

Cindy checked for diseases in the oranges, I just watched in amazement at this rich bounty just one tree could offer. IMG_6979

As she clipped the oranges’ little leaved stems, Cindy shared with me that SoCalHarvest was conceived in January 2009 as a response to President Obama’s call to service. Quite impressive!

And while more oranges tumbled into the boxes and crates, and the volunteers enthused about their community service and joy of homegrown produce, Cindy gave me the rundown of things. First, a request comes from the homeowner followed by her site visit to evaluate the yield and workforce needed. Once set up, her team descends like magical fairies, picking the homegrown goodness before delivering it to area food bank, where everything is weighed. Cindy told me that their best harvest, 23 volunteers on one day in one backyard yielded 1,385 pounds of grapefruits, oranges and tangerines. WOW!

Back to the food bank, the homeowner gets a receipt for his tax-deductable donation. One crate of his/her donation goes to the bi-monthly Produce Exchange in Bluff Park (across from Bixby Park) on Ocean Boulevard between Junipero and Cherry. In this free community gathering of gardeners, environmentalists, urban harvesters, and curious Long Beach citizens, all share their bounty, build community and forge lasting friendships.

So, come and check it out every First and Third Saturday of the month from 10:00am to 1:00 pm. For more information email or go to

To have SoCal Harvest pick your fruits or veggies or to volunteer, you may sign up through, or

So, if you’ve got a backyard full of fruit trees or just one, and would like to share your  excess produce with the community, give Cindy a call. She not only will make you smile but a whole community. Because after all, good food serves people and eventually changes the world to be a better place one backyard at a time. IMG_6982


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