Tuesday, December 30, 2014

ABC 7 - Lemon Lady

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PEOPLE Magazine. Heroes Among Us. Anna Chan, the lemon lady...

People Magazine Heroes Among Us
Once Hungry, She Now Feeds Others
Anna Chan, Clayton, California
May 30, 2011
By Thaillam Pham and Susan Young

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For reference: Awards and Media featuring Anna, The Lemon Lady's community service...

Jefferson Award Winner

City of Concord, 23rd Annual Human Relations Commission
Women Making a Difference 2010 Honoree


Civil Eats
by Sarah Henry
The Lemon Lady: Feeding the Hungry One Bag of Produce At A Timehttp://civileats.com/2009/10/28/the-lemon-lady-feeding-the-hungry-one-bag-of-produce-at-a-time/

Other articles have appeared in The Concordian Newspaper, The Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, Edible East Bay Magazine, online blogs by professional journalists, Civil Eats, Lettuce Eat Kale, and many more

Sunday, October 25, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle - Sunday October 25, 2009


Back to Article
Lemon Lady Anna Chan branches out
Joe Eaton,Ron Sullivan
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anna Chan, the Lemon Lady of Contra Costa County, says it all started last winter when her daughter, Ava, now 2, was being cranky. "She had colic," Chan recalls, "and I had to drive her around to calm her." (Child calming is an art. Joe once put a colicky infant niece to sleep by lecturing to her about the origin of the universe.)

"I started seeing all these lemons and oranges on the ground. I realized the homeowners weren't harvesting them - they didn't know what to do with them."

So Chan began knocking on doors, and leaving flyers when residents weren't home.

People responded, says Chan, a former dental office administrative assistant. "It was so easy to get the first bag of lemons. I just started picking. But I had no idea where I would take this produce. I started looking in the phone book under food banks and calling around."

Lots of food banks
She was surprised to discover an extensive food-assistance network in her Concord-Clayton area. "I tell homeowners, 'I could pick an orange from your tree and throw it to the nearest food pantry.' " While some pantries deal only in canned goods, others handle fresh produce.

The exchange networks for homegrown produce that have popped up in parts of the East Bay haven't developed in Chan's area. "People in Oakland and Berkeley are more into the foraging part of it," she says. "Here they're happy to give and just be done with it."

Chan expanded from citrus fruit to other kinds of produce. In spring, she began visiting a circuit of local farmers' markets: Walnut Creek and Martinez on Sundays, Concord on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Pleasant Hill on Saturdays. She networks with farmers: "Mien farmers with family in Fresno - they remember me and tell me where to go to find other family members (with unsold vegetables)."

The market visits have yielded as much as $2,000 worth of produce a week, some of it a little shopworn but still edible, as well as some salable items that won't hold until the next market.
The next logical step was helping people to grow their own food. Chan connected with Kathy Gleason, corporate donations coordinator for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. On her own time, Gleason had converted a weedy vacant lot in a low-income neighborhood into the Children's Community Garden of Concord. "She contacted me and asked if I knew anything about gardening," Chan says.

That launched another project: growing several thousand tomato, pepper, eggplant, squash, bean and watermelon seedlings for donation to the garden, with some assistance from daughter Ava. Gleason says a core group of about a dozen children, from toddlers to 12-year-olds, help water and weed the garden, and a couple of neighborhood adults have pitched in. Gleason worried about vandalism, but that hasn't happened: "Everyone in the neighborhood respects the garden. I'm proud of the neighborhood, and I'm proud of what they've done."

Along with seedlings, Chan says, she tries to bring education into the garden. That dovetails with Gleason's goal of showing the kids where food comes from. She passes along seed catalogs for inspiration: "They'll teach you everything you need to know about growing plants." And they're usually free.

Seedlings provided
Chan provides seedlings to other community garden projects, including the JFK Garden in Pleasant Hill and a new Salvation Army garden in Concord. She's also been working with Concord's Monument Community Partnership, creating rolling gardens in pots for apartment dwellers: "I want to let people know you don't need land to grow a garden." She sees seedling donation as an important way for gardeners to help meet food security needs.

Last month, the Lemon Lady was recognized by Maryanne Lucas, president of California Garden Clubs Inc., with a special award for her "tireless efforts to bring fresh, delicious food to Contra Costa County's needy." What started as a citrus salvage drive has evolved into an expanding network connecting gardeners, food-distribution nonprofits and community groups. "I'm more of a resource coordinator than anything else," Chan says. Her Web site (see Resources) has links for all the local food banks. In hard times, it's a rewarding way to help those who have fallen through the increasingly frayed social safety net.

Read Anna Chan's blog at thelemonlady.blogspot.com.

Joe Eaton and Ron Sullivan are naturalists and freelance garden writers in Berkeley. Check out their Web site at www.selbornesurveys.com or e-mail them at home@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page L - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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Monday, August 17, 2009

ABC7 Salutes - 'Lemon lady' comes through in tough times

Watch the ABC7 Broadcast at either of these links:

Anna Chan, The Lemon Lady website:

ABC7 website:

ABC7 Salutes
'Lemon lady' comes through in tough times
The "lemon lady' is making a difference in the lives of the needy

Friday, July 03, 2009 7:33 PM
By Laura Anthony

CONCORD, CA (KGO) -- She calls herself "the lemon lady" because of all the backyard fruit she collects and delivers to bay area food pantries. But Anna Chan does much more than that, as her way of giving back to her community in these tough economic times.
Anna Chan couldn't stand all the waste -- wasted fruit that is.
"I used to drive around the neighborhood and I'd see all the fruit ripening on the trees," said Chan.
So the stay-at-home mom decided it was time to get out, and do something about it. Now, Chan is known in her Concord neighborhood and beyond as the "lemon lady."
She goes house to house and with the owner's permission, harvests home-grown produce and delivers it to local food pantries.
"It's about nutrition," said Chan. "Fresh oranges, lemons, tomatoes, avocados, zucchini. These are all things that we take for granted, but they're not available to someone on a limited income," said Chan.
Homeowner Bonnie Wright gave Chan oranges that would otherwise have gone to waste.
"It seemed like just the perfect use for my oranges. Plus I have two apple trees that are about to begin dropping dozens of apples that I can't keep up with either," said Wright.
Over the past year, Chan estimates she's personally collected at least 5,000 pounds of produce from yards and gardens and driven it to food pantries that rarely receive such fresh donations.
Anna Chan brings much of what she collects to The Salvation Army Food Pantry in Concord, where demand for food has increased dramatically.
"We have seen a double increase in comparison to last year. Last year we were handing out about 200 food boxes per month and this year, it's double that, upwards of 400 just last month," said Stefani Varpi from the Salvation Army.
That's why Chan believes what she's doing is so important. Besides the hands-on gathering, Chan created a website to spread the word about what she does, and how others can help.
She's also organizing a community garden to grow fresh produce for families in need.
"Lots of local pantries need fresh fruit donations, Fruit is accepted. Everyone thinks cans and boxes. Fresh fruit -- think fresh, think outside the box," said Chan.
ABC7 salutes Anna Chan for her dedication to her community.
Anna Chan Blog

Email: AnnaAndAva@gmail.com, Telephone: 510.406.1625

Contra Costa Times and The Oakland Tribune - July 18, 2009


'Lemon Lady' thinks outside the cardboard box
Clayton 'Lemon Lady's' food mission a fresh means of help
By Laura CaseyContra Costa Times
Posted: 07/17/2009 02:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 07/18/2009 07:16:28 AM PDT

Anna Chan holds a tray of spinach and bowl of strawberry... (Jim Stevens/Contra Costa Times)

THE SPARK that ignited Anna "The Lemon Lady" Chan's one-woman mission to bring fresh, nutritious food to Contra Costa County's needy was struck by the need to lull a child to sleep.
Chan's 2-year-old daughter, angel-faced Ava, prefers to nap in the family's SUV. So Chan often drives Ava all over Clayton and Concord while the girl finishes her nap time.
In February, while Chan was driving yet again, the former administrative assistant-turned-stay-at-home mom was bothered by something she saw — lemon trees in people's yards, straining under a bounty that no one apparently was harvesting.
Pounds of fruit were falling to the ground to rot. What a waste, she thought, when so many people are going hungry.
Conquering her fear of knocking on strangers' doors, Chan asked homeowners if she could collect the fruit and take it to a food pantry.
The response, she says, has been an overwhelming "Yes."
"A lot of people don't know where their local food pantry is and they don't know that they accept fresh produce," Chan says. "For many folks, a food pantry is within walking distance."
Chan is a fast-talking, earnest woman whose heroes include fresh food activist Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse. Chan also is passionate about food and nutrition. She raises Ava on fresh, wholesome foods but realizes not everyone has the resources to do that.
"In poverty and food bank situations, people are living on canned food and what the government is able to give them," she says.
Fresh often takes a back seat to price and quantity.
Since February, Chan has built a network of more than 300 homes in the area where she collects fruit, and she's always recruiting more.
One early contact was Concord's Jack Farrell. Farrell has several fruit trees in his yard, all hanging heavy with peaches and nectarines. He uses much of the fruit himself but says he certainly doesn't mind Chan stopping by every month or so to pick some for Concord's hungry.
"They need the fruit, too," he says. "If she takes a bag or two, I don't miss it. And you hate to see anything go to waste."
Chan has collected more than 8,000 pounds of food in the five months she's been at it. She delivers by the bag to The Salvation Army pantry on Clayton Road in Concord and to the SHARE pantry at The First Christian Church on Willow Pass Road in Concord, among other places.
"It makes us feel better to, instead of giving canned food out all the time, give something fresh," says George Conlow, president of SHARE.
SHARE has been open for more than 20 years and serves about 600 families a month. Conlow says need is growing as more people are losing their jobs.
Chan's mission doesn't stop at the fruit on the trees of the homes she can access. She also visits local farmer's markets and networks with farmers who, in turn, give her their leftover produce at the end of the day. She takes that produce to food pantries too.
A consummate gardener as well, Chan has been working since May with adults and children in one of Concord's low-income neighborhoods to build a community garden much like Berkeley's Edible Schoolyard.
The plot, about 30-by-12 feet, is planted with an abundance of corn, eggplant, squash and tomatoes. Many plants came from seedlings Chan started in her backyard.
"It's a miracle," a young neighborhood boy says of the veggies growing in the plot. He doesn't like tomatoes but he does like watering the plants and watching the garden grow.
Through the garden, the families living in the neighborhood can use the food without balancing its cost with other necessities such as bread, milk or rice.
"The children water it and keep it alive," Chan says. "I will give them seedlings until the sun stops shining."
If Chan sounds like a do-gooder whose devotion to her community and energy is impossible to replicate, think again. Chan set up a Web site to give people in places outside of Concord ideas on how to help the hungry in their communities. The site, thelemonlady.blogspot.com, encourages anyone with a heavily producing fruit tree or bountiful garden to head on over to their local food banks and donate.
"Think outside the box," she says. "Think fresh and give what you can."
Contact Laura Casey at lcasey@bayareanewsgroup.com or 925-952-2697.