Fruits of the City kicks off volunteer fruit-picking program

Volunteer pickers help get fresh fruits into "food deserts."
Volunteer pickers help get fresh fruits into "food deserts."

Some sections of the Twin Cities might be considered "food deserts," meaning that residents don't have easy access to fresh, healthy food. Meanwhile, in other neighborhoods surplus fruit from backyard fruit trees goes to waste. Last year, the nonprofit Minnesota Project launched its Fruits of the City fruit-gleaning initiative to correct the imbalance by connecting volunteer pickers with tree owners so that surplus apples, pears, and plums are harvested and donated to local food shelves.

If you have a fruit tree with surplus to share or are interested in becoming a volunteer picker, Fruits of the City is hosting a launch party this Sunday, July 11, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Beard's Plaisance pavilion on Lake Harriet, Minneapolis. The event will provide information about getting involved with fruit tree gleanings and tree care classes.

Dave Glenn, of the Minnesota Project, explained that Fruits of the City is hoping to expand the program from last year's pilot phase, which successfully donated 15,531 pounds of surplus fruit to Minnesota food shelves. "We were not able to get to all the trees that were offered last year," he says. "We want to try to reach as many as we can." Before the program launched, many homeowners didn't know what to do with excess fruit, and a lot was left on the tree or ground to rot. "I talked to one homeowner last year who had friends who had horses, and he fed their apples to the horses," Glenn says.

Glenn explained that volunteer pickers will be able to go online and see what days/times gleanings are scheduled and then sign up on a one-time basis. Pickings usually take 3-4 hours as groups travel to several homes in one area. Fruits of the City hopes the program will help create more awareness regarding local food shelves' shortage of fresh fruit. "It's a great way to provide that access a healthier alternative," Glenn says. "It's local, too, and that's always good as well."

For more information or to RSVP, go to or contact Fruits of the City by phone (651-789-3324), or email ([email protected]).

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