I don’t live in an area where there are a lot of neighborhood fruit trees, but it came to my attention last fall that the neighbors five doors down have an apple tree. The couple that lives in that house is retired. I can imagine that the majority of the apples on their tree go to waste each year. I hope to change that.

I’ve been inspired by what I’ve been reading lately about neighborhood fruit harvesting to offer to help them harvest it next year. Also known as tree gleaning and fruitcycling, neighborhood fruit harvesting is when individual volunteers or established volunteer groups harvest the trees from residential and community properties. They make sure that perfectly good fruit that would otherwise go to waste gets into the hands of those who need it.

In Maui, the community volunteer organization “Waste Not, Want Not

regularly collect ripe, unwanted fruit that would otherwise go to waste. With the help of Maui Food Bank, the fruit is distributed to locations where senior citizens and low-income communities can easily obtain this ready to eat, 100% natural nutritional fruit at no cost.
The San Francisco Bay Area Village Harvest organization “harvested almost 125,000 lbs. of fruit from local backyards and small orchards in 2007.” The fruit went to local charitable food agencies and organizations.

In Oregon, The Portland Fruit Tree Project organizes “people to gather fruit before it falls, and makes it available to those who need it most.”  They “register fruit and nut trees throughout the city, bring people together to harvest and distribute thousands of pounds of fresh fruit each year, and teach tree care and food preservation in hands-on workshops.”

These are just a handful of the volunteer driven organizations across the country that are saving fresh fruit and nuts and helping them get into the hands of those who can benefit from it. They are doing important work, and their efforts should be applauded.

Next fall, I hope to follow in their footsteps and do a little fruit tree harvesting on my own block. I’ve got two boys who will be more than happy to climb a tree to help me.  

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Fruit tree harvesting helps communities
All over the country volunteers are keeping fruit from going to waste by harvesting trees.