The Lemon Lady

As Anna drove a colicky baby around her California neighborhood, it occurred to her that the trees heavy with luscious and abundant fruit could make a huge difference for low income families.

Anna Chan

City / State
Clayton, California

What was your big dream?
Fruit harvesting for the hungry. Bring fresh fruit donations to local food banks to the mouths of the hungry, rather than watch bountiful harvests simply rot to the ground. My dream is to create a nationwide awareness campaign. Promote public awareness to donate unwanted excess fruit and vegetables to local hunger relief organizations. Grow a Row For the Hungry. Inspire others to garden and grow food. Inspire low-income areas to plant a garden to feed their families, neighbors and children.

How did you accomplish it?
With my own two hands. Knocking on doors and asking the homeowner if they will donate the fruit on their trees, or let me harvest the fruit to take to food pantries. I created my very own website.

Readers are reading and writing about me all across the country. From California to Arkansas to the Carolinas, and who knows where else.

Where did you find inspiration to get started?
My baby had colic, and I spent many hours driving around in our car to soothe her and lull her to sleep. Driving neighborhoods watching gorgeous fruit ripen, fall to the ground rotting. I typed a flier, knocked on doors, and started harvesting fruit, mostly lemons and oranges in the month of February 2009. Every month here in California brings new fruit to harvest. June is loquats. Next will be plums, apricots, the list is endless…

What motivated you to keep going?
My healthy daughter. My sweet, precious gift of life who thrives on fresh fruit. Her favorites are oranges, mangoes, peaches. Knowing how much she loves fresh fruit, I have always felt…all children deserve the very best start in life. I grew up in poverty, so I know what is like to not have access to fresh fruit. Such a shame to know that fresh fruit is available within walking distance to the nearest food pantry, yet unharvested and never will reach the hands of the hungry. More fruit will ripen…calling out to me! 🙂

What’s your next Big Dream?
Inspire others to donate fruit and vegetables. Hunger doesn’t end with the season. Inspire others to grow gardens. In between being a Mommy (and a wife), I wish I had more time to write for grants to help with garden supplies to bring to other areas of our city. There are hundreds of thousands of pounds of unharvested fruit that will rot in the next few months, all within a small area of our city. I hope this becomes a national awareness campaign. I’d love to share my story with others.

Who is your hero?
John van Hengel, creator of the first Food Bank.

What do you wish you did better?
Sleep. I wish I knew how to relax and set a normal bedtime for myself. I spend far too much time researching and spreading awareness of this cause I am so passionate about.

What book is on your night stand?
Edible Schoolyard, by Alice Waters

What is your favorite lipstick?
Neutrogena, I forget the formula, but my absolute favorite has been discontinued again!

What is your favorite quote?
“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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