“I just keep my eyes open,” said Kirby, who spends a lot of time around the city either in her car or on foot.
Rather than watching ripe fruit fall from trees and rot on the ground, Kirby places a bright yellow note on each tree-owner’s door asking permission either to pick the fruit herself or to collect harvested fruit. From there, she donates much of the collected fruit to local charities — while keeping a little for herself and her four children.
Kirby explains her charity work as a takeoff on the tradition of gleaning, in which people are allowed to take from fields and orchards the produce that is left over after the harvest.
“It’s something we’ve been doing since biblical times,” Kirby said.
Kirby got started after, as she put it, she one day stepped outside the routine of her normal life and “saw the bones of Tracy.”
She started noticing little things about the city she’s lived in since 2001 — old buildings, classic architecture — and eventually became aware of Tracy’s often overlooked bounty.
Her one-woman outfit, named Finger Pickin’ Good, so far has planned to share gleaned goods with the Coalition of Tracy Citizens to Help the Homeless and the McHenry House Family Shelter.
Kirby doesn’t charge for her services and has thanked at least one person who offered up a backyard crop by returning some of the picked fruit in the form of preserves.
Kirby said it just makes sense to share the natural bounty of Tracy’s urban forest, instead of letting the produce of so many trees just go to waste.
“You wouldn’t imagine how much stuff is out there,” she said.
A Tracy resident since 2001, Kirby also runs a home cleaning business called Home Sweet Home, and she also specializes in home organization and redecorating rooms on short notice.
Kirby said anyone with extra fruit on their trees or vegetables in their gardens is welcome to donate. She can be reached at 640-5599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• In the Spotlight is a weekly feature profiling a member of our community. To nominate someone who lives in Tracy or Mountain House, e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet Elizabeth Kirby
How long in Tracy: Nine years
Occupation: Home Sweet Home
cleaning and home organization
Avocation: Finger Pickin’ Good, a nonprofit that shares extra fruit picked from Tracy trees with local charities