Published on October 13th, 2014 | by Katy Evans0
Gleaning the block
It’s hard to pick a favorite tree but Tacoma’s fruit trees are way up on the list for me. Without fail, I’m delighted each year as our urban cherries, plums, apples, figs, and pears first start as dainty blossoms and then mature into enticing, ready-to-eat snacks, weighing down branches across town.
But now, as harvest season hits in earnest, Tacoma’s streets, sidewalks, and yards start to suffer under all that bounty.
Trees release their hold on ripe and overripe fruit, and we are forced to tip toe past, avoiding squishy, rotting, festering maggot homes that, had we rescued them sooner, could have been an edible treat.
Frustrating, gross, and messy, yes, but there is hope because Tacoma is home to both lots of fruit, and lots of volunteers happy to harvest it. Here’s all you need to know about getting gleaners on your side:
The Pierce County Gleaning Project has been in effect since 2009, picking up where the Washington State University Extension left off in the early 2000s. A true partnership, the Gleaning Project began with St. Leo’s Food Connection and has since grown to include volunteers from the Emergency Food Network, AmeriCorps, and many others.
Volunteers gather fruits and vegetables from urban trees, farmers markets, farms, and community gardens, and distribute them to food banks throughout the county.
Every year, the Gleaning Project has grown, working to serve the 147,000 Pierce County residents who visit food banks and meal sites every month.
As we see trends in home gardening and local food continue to grow, the number of food-producing plants in many neighborhoods has increased and its hard not to notice how much of that food rots on the vine.
Now is the season to get involved – you can register your own tree, volunteer with the gleaners, or harvest and then donate yourself. You can make a real difference without doing much more than making sure people know they can come pick your trees clean.
The Pierce County Gleaning Project has so many ways for you to help out and get involved, I hope you feel more than a little embarrassed if, come November, apples are still rotting on your sidewalk.
Learn more at the Pierce County Gleaning Project website.
Originally published September 2013.