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Fruit Tree Gleaning at the Green Urban Lunch Box

17 Nov 2020, by Admin in Fruit Tree Harvest, General/ Logistics
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Fruit Tree Gleaning

In order to minimize unnecessary food waste and redirect food resources to those in need of fresh produce, GULB cultivates a relationship with tree owners and registers their trees in the FruitShare database. Each season, as the fruit ripens, GULB organizes groups of volunteers to harvest. The homeowner, the volunteers, and the entire community are engaged directly in increasing food security and benefit from the minimization of food waste through working together in this facet.

Funding comes from grants, Fruit Partners, and individual giving. GULB also offers fruit tree care such as pruning, thinning, and fertilizing for a small fee to help improve the health of trees registered in the FruitShare program, thus improving the quality and quantity of fruit harvested. GULB strives to be internally funded and to expand FruitShare into Utah County.

The FruitShare program works by first having the homeowner register their fruit trees. Homeowners with fewer than 20 trees register their trees in our program using the online form created in the acuity scheduling platform. Trees must meet the following criteria: trees must be less that two stories tall (or about 20ft) OR more than half of the branches must be below 15 feet, there must be sufficient space and even ground around the tree for ladder placement, and the homeowner must be willing to communicate through the season as needed. The information that is collected from the registration forms is put into the Customer Relationship Management platform SalesForce

After filling out the registration form, homeowners receive a confirmation email containing the day their tree will be scouted. One FruitShare staff member scouts 15-20 trees each Monday (the day is arbitrary, whichever day works best for the scout), then the harvest schedule is made and each harvest is rescheduled from a scouting appointment to a harvest appointment in acuity. Homeowners receive an automatic email if their tree was selected for harvesting, which contains the date and time of harvest.

Harvest events are usually advertised in GULB’s volunteer newsletter or on all social media platforms. Due to COVID-19 this method pivoted from first come first serve volunteers to recurring volunteers. The recurring volunteers harvested at the same time and on the same day every week, as not to expose the staff and volunteers to new groups of people at every harvest. 

Harvest events are led by a FruitShare staff member. The FruitShare staff members pack one of the two harvest vans full of equipment (one orchard ladder, an 8 ft ladder, a 6 ft ladder, several fruit pickers, harvest bags, helmets, scale, and crates). Once all the fruit is harvested, it is then sorted into A-grade and B-grade, and compost if applicable. The weight of the harvested fruit is recorded in Salesforce, and then the fruit is distributed to the homeowner and volunteers. The rest of the fruit is loaded in the van to bring back to GULB headquarters to be placed in the designated fridge zone, where it can then be dispersed to donation sites. 

Homeowners receive a receipt for the tax-deductible donation of fruit based on poundage and the type of fruit.