SAN JOSE — Money may not grow on trees but Molly Kinder found the next best thing.
Kinder, who works part-time as a doctor, spends the rest of the week making the rounds in backyards across the Bay Area picking fruit from neighborhood trees.
“Once you kind of get it pulled off it’s a pretty satisfying feeling,” she said.
Kinder is among more than 1,000 volunteers for an organization called Village Harvest, a non-profit that’s tapping into one of Silicon Valley’s hidden resources.
“Older homes had citrus trees planted when these homes were built,” Kinder said. “They’ve grown into these big beautiful trees that produce a lot of fruit.”
It all started 20 years ago when founder Craig Diserens noticed a growing need for fresh produce in a place known for its abundance of backyard fruit trees.
“We’ve now gone past 3.6 million pounds of fruit, which is too big a number to grasp,” he said.
Home gardens could become a promising approach to food insecurity as the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.
These days the organization’s mission has taken on a renewed sense of urgency as food prices soar and inflation has people struggling to make ends meet.
On a recent warm day, a group of volunteers harvested the backyards of four different houses, including one owned by Jeanette and Gary Miskimon. The couple said they had given out as much of the fruit as they could but still had plenty left over.
“it’s just too much for us to keep up with 12 months out of the year,” Gary Miskimon said.
For Kinder, it’s about helping those most in need while also connecting with nature.
“A lot of people just kind of get into finding their spot,” she said, “and everybody kind of gets into it.”
The final tally that day: a harvest of 750 pounds – the fruits of her labor, all of it heading to food banks in the area.