Fruit Tree Harvest

Clallam County has a rich history of home and farm orchards. The tree fruit in the area includes: Apples, Peaches, Cherries, Plums, Pears and Figs. In addition to this tree fruit, Clallam County can grow several nuts, berries, and vegetables. The environmental good fortune of the area creates many produce abundances. Tree fruit often has boom seasons and the food security agencies and clients have greatly benefited.

Safety is something to consider in any volunteer-based program. In a gleaning program, the concerns are enhanced by ladders and general liability. To address these issues, gleaners are given instruction in safe ladder use.

Having a screening process for homeowners can save a lot of headaches. When a homeowner contacts the Gleaning Coordinator they are asked a series of quick questions. Since the program is unable to visit all properties prior to a volunteer’s harvesting the “glean screen” is very helpful.

Questions to consider:

· Collect basic contact information: Name, Number, Address and Email

· How did you hear about the program?

· Type of Produce

· Number of trees (plants)

· What is the General Quality

· How much of the fruit can be harvested?

· Is it ripe now? If not, how soon?

· Do you have other produce that will be available?

· Do you have a ladder available if it is needed?  If not, what size ladder should a gleaner bring?

Other things to consider: parking conditions, animals, evidence of bug infestation, over-ripeness, the height of trees. (This will grow the more you talk with homeowners)

In many ways, gleaners are the face of the program. They are the ones literally in the field (and orchards) that directly interact with donors. It never hurts to remind gleaners of their importance to the sustainability of the program. Giving thanks and cleaning up after oneself can go a long way. Sometimes property owners would like a few pounds left on the trees or picked for their families. Encourage gleaners to talk with donors before and after harvesting.  At the WSU Extension Office in Clallam County, gleaners are asked to practice the three “C’s” of gleaner etiquette. Call ahead to let the homeowner know they are coming and to gather any more information about the site;  Come prepared with ladders, fruit boxes, directions to the home site; and Carry through with the glean (or call and let the homeowner and Gleaning Coordinator know if they are unable to glean after all). Homeowners will be disgruntled with the program if they arrange to be home to meet a gleaning volunteer, and the volunteer never shows up.

In an abundant fruit year, volunteers may need more ideas on where to donate excess produce. Give them a list of Donation Sites, along with the days and hours that these sites accept produce, to facilitate the drop-off. PRODUCE DONATION DROP OFF SITE LIST

WSU Extension builds the capacity of individuals, organizations, businesses, and communities, empowering them to find solutions for local issues and to improve their quality of life. The 39 Extension locations throughout the state of Washington offer researched based resources and volunteer programming to communities in efforts to create a culture of life-long learning and is recognized for its accessible, learner-centered, relevant, high-quality, unbiased educational programs. Over 100 years ago The Extension service was originally funded by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 which established the Cooperative Extension service across the country.

The Clallam County Extension, located in Port Angeles, is home to many programs that connect the people and communities of Clallam County with the knowledge base of Washington State University. These programs include: Master Gardeners, 4-H, Small Farms, Waste Reduction, Food and Nutrition, and Water Protection. The Gleaning Coordinator position was created in 2016 to better serve the existing gleaning program. Before the creation of this position the gleaning program had served the community for eight years but never with the attention of a full-time position. Today the gleaning program has over 300 volunteers who pick produce from residential yards, farm production overages, community garden donations and extras from a local farmer’s market. The gleaning coordinator promotes the program by presenting public lectures, reaching out to volunteer organizations, teaching youth groups, attending local events, advertising on social media and by putting out press releases. Homeowners are more than happy to hear there is a volunteer-based organization willing to pick their extra fruit and veggies. Once the produce has been picked a portion is taken home to family and friends and the rest is brought to a local food service program, most often a food bank. The gleaning program takes pride in turning potential food waste into a community resource. 

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