Harvest Pierce County

Read the latest from Harvest Pierce County: includes updates on our Gleaning Project, Community Gardens, and more!

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Oct 27

Harvest Pierce County Celebrates a Historically Successful Gleaning Season

Posted on October 27, 2023 at 1:09 PM by Gracie DeMeo

The Gleaning Project had one of its biggest years to date in its nearly decade-long history. Our current poundage stands at 58,380 pounds of harvested and distributed produce that would have otherwise gone to waste. Our team of four Fruit Tree Assessors traveled to 145 sites (and counting) across Pierce County which contain varying amounts of fruit trees, vines, and bushes.

Four volunteers at a farm, kneeling down and harvesting kale for donation.

Volunteers hard at work gleaning kale at Early Bird Farm.

Each fruit-producing plant is assessed for pest and disease issues. The site then receives a detailed, individualized Orchard Plan, which aims to significantly increase the health of our urban orchards. The Gleaning Project has a team of six Branch Leaders: Jessica, Jane, Nik, Wendy, Melissa, and Amanda. Our Branch Leaders along with volunteer harvesters, staff, and an AmeriCorps Service member have harvested 53,426 pounds of food to date (and counting!). We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our Fruit Tree Assessment team: Ursula, David, Kimberly, and Luke. We also give a special thank you to Pierce County Master Gardener Chris Dobbins for aiding us in appropriately diagnosing pest and disease issues and supplying information on current standard mitigation practices. 

Grey and blue bins full of apples in a storage area.

Grey and blue bins stacked high with apples, sorted for the gleaning project.

Not only have our Branch Leaders harvested this vast amount of produce, but they have all helped us distribute it to Hunger Relief Organizations, and small businesses such as local small-scale livestock farmers, and cideries. We give a round of applause to our Branch Leader team, especially in the month of August when things got very intense!!  29,733 pounds of produce harvested by the Gleaning Project have gone directly to Hunger Relief Organizations to feed our community members in need. 3,725 pounds went to Site Stewards for allowing us to harvest the fruit-producing plants they steward and Volunteer Harvesters as a thank-you for their generous time and labor. The remaining 19,968 pounds went to our new pilot program, the Closed Loop Community program, which diverts fruit that would otherwise go to waste due to its pest and disease issues to local artisans for their cideries, mead, and jams, and to local livestock farmers to feed their animals.  

Two volunteers posing with freshly washed leafy green harvest, prepping for food bank donation.

Two volunteers posing with freshly washed leafy green harvest, prepping for food bank donation.