SPOKANE, Wash. - Every summer in and around Spokane so much perfect produce grows; often overwhelming tree owners who may not have the time or the means to deal with it. That's where the Spokane Edible Tree Project steps in.
Spokane Edible Tree Project's Nicki Thompson explains, “we're gleaners! We pick the excess produce from fruit and nut trees and then we donate it to food banks and community kitchens.”
Volunteer Melody Getman adds, “rather than it falling to the ground and rotting, you might as well harvest it at its peak of ripeness and get it distributed to people who can enjoy it.”
Today they're gleaning for cherries at a private residence. The new homeowners have over half a dozen cherry trees and say this will help to keep them healthy. It's also helping them to maintain their agricultural tax exemption after weather jeopardized other crops. Other glean sites come from community outreach and local orchards.
Thompson adds, “we also do tree scouting so we will go out in neighborhoods and look for fruit trees.”
Its all done by volunteers who clocked in one thousand hours last summer. Each is trained how to pick the fruit ensuring the tree is well-taken care of for the owner. Their last cherry glean resulted in 125 pounds of cherries
“That was with four people picking, we hope to surpass that today,” Thompson shared.
Where the fruit will go depends on the life of the fruit and how fast it can get there.
“One of our partner organizations for cherries has been Catholic Charities Food For All; they give their produce to tenants of low income housing units. A lot of the cherries and raspberries we are currently picking have a short life and they have a quick turnaround,” she explains.
Larger quantities of fruit with longer lifespans will usually go to distribution centers like Second Harvest. Cherry gleans are about filled for the year., but as the season progresses they move on to other fruits and are looking for locations to harvest.
The group has more events coming up and are in need of volunteers for gleans as soon as next weekend. To find out more, head to https://spokaneedibletreeproject.org/
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