Produce Selection with WSU Clallam County Extension
In a location of produce abundance such as Clallam County, finding available produce is not a challenge. Often there is more available than volunteers can pick. Therefore, volunteers should be encouraged to be politely selective about what they harvest and donate. This will ensure that produce is of good quality and ripeness and does not become a burden to the emergency food organizations. This selectiveness starts at the desk of the Gleaning Coordinator who talks with each homeowner/farmer before sending a volunteer to the site. Coordinator asks questions such as “does the produce taste ripe?” and “will the produce still be harvestable in the 4-5 days it will take to get a volunteer out to the glean site?” Also, “Is most of the harvestable produce still on the tree?” The Gleaning Coordinator should explain to the homeowner that the emergency food donation sites prefer not to get ground fall fruit because of the increased risk that it may harbor bacteria.
In the last few years, Clallam County has experienced an increased infestation of coddling moth and apple maggot in the pome fruit, and fruit fly larvae in the cherries. While not instructing volunteers to shun all imperfect fruit, it is important to encourage volunteers to only donate fruit that they themselves would be willing to eat.
It can also be beneficial to instruct homeowners on how to judge the ripeness of their own fruit. Educating them about when to call the WSU Extension Office and report their ripe fruit is a good way to improve the timing of gleans. Giving the WSU Extension Office a week’s notice before the fruit is ripe can help get a volunteer to the site in time to harvest.