Have you ever walked near a neglected apple tree in the early fall and noticed fruit on the ground, rotting away? When I was a kid, I remember a huge apple tree in a friend's backyard that we used to pick apples from. And while we often filled our bellies with the sweet snack, many of the apples went uneaten because my friend's parents never harvested from the high branches. I suspect this happens a lot, either because of the homeowner's lack of time, ability, or interest in harvesting from the whole tree. Maybe they just don't know what to do with all of those apples that ripen at the same time.
That amounts to a whole lot of apples that go uneaten, when they could be picked and donated to a food pantry to serve the hungry in our communities. And that's exactly what is happening around the country, and it's called apple gleaning. In fact, lots of apples in commercial fields are missed the first time around because professional pickers are not patient and often do not seek out fruit hidden behind branches, and do not pick apples with blemishes. So, in come volunteer gleaners to pick this perfectly good food for those who need it most.
I'm a little obsessed with organizing an apple mob of volunteers to descend on a neglected tree to harvest it to feed the hungry as part of my GardenWorks project. If you're interested, please contact me. Also, if you live in the DuPage County, IL area, and you have an apple tree that you need help harvesting for any reason, please let me know. It could be a win-win for all involved! Check out the links below for some interesting articles on apple gleaning.
Tina Koral is a local landscape designer and owner of Tina Koral Gardens.