Editor’s Note: The following post originally ran last year, but Wallyhood reader, Luna, recently asked us to remind our neighbors about the various ways we can share our ripened surplus fruit. Luna also adds, “If nothing else, suggesting people who won’t eat their crops put a sign in their yards that say something like “help yourself – and leave some for the next person!”
Last month’s post about the orchard pruning class resulted in lots of inquiries about what to do with a bumper crop of fruit. We are lucky that local options exist: City Fruit and Solid Ground’s Community Fruit Tree Harvest (CFTH)work with other organizations throughout the city to harvest fruit and to make sure it gets into the hands of hungry people.
The easiest and most direct action to take with your surplus fruit is to harvest it yourself and drop it off at a local food bank. Solid Ground has a handy list here of local food banks, hours, favorite crops and special requirements.
I received some great advice about donating produce from Robin DeCook of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program. Lettuce Link coordinates the Community Fruit Tree Harvest and also connects all types of produce with food banks. She wrote:
We encourage people to donate their produce grown using organic methods. We also ask that people wash their produce before bringing it in for donation, and only bring in quality produce. The general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t give it to a non-gardening friend (since gardeners tend to eat everything!), don’t donate it. We also encourage people to harvest right before delivery, to ensure freshness.
If you don’t have the time or the equipment to properly harvest your fruit, volunteers will pick it for you and bring it to the food bank. CFTH can help you in: NE Seattle, NW Seattle (except Phinney, Greenwood, Crown Hill), Capitol Hill, Central District, Leschi, Madrona, Magnolia, Montlake and Queen Anne. To register your tree and request volunteer assistance, contact The Garden Hotline at 206.633.0224 or email email@example.com. Residents of Phinney Ridge, Greenwood, Crown Hill, SE Seattle, Colman Park and West Seattle can get volunteer help by contacting City Fruit.
If you love to pick fruit, both organizations can always use volunteers! If you don’t love to pick fruit but want to get involved in other ways, you can do everything from checking the ripeness of fruit trees, to asking your neighbors if they would like to register their trees, to storing fruit picking equipment in your garage. Solid Ground maintains a great list of volunteer opportunities which you should check out here, along with their materials for recruiting your neighborhood’s participation like this flier which you could post in your favorite café or on the light post at the end of your block.
For more fruit-related fun, City Fruit also has a mapping project. To add your fruit tree to their map, go here and assist them in their goal of “identify[ing] all of the fruit trees in the city that make up an Urban Orchard that stretches across Seattle.”