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Gleaning for good
Pilot program picks fruit for food banks
fruit picking program
A pilot program through the East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District will send people out to pick fruit from residents’ trees and donate it to local food banks (Photo contributed).

An East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District pilot program is helping to supply food pantries through the county, and at the same time, helping home gardeners.

Here’s how the program works: Say you’ve got a fruit tree in your yard, and perhaps you’re unable to get up and down a ladder to pick the high fruit. ESRCD personnel will come to your home and pick the fruit for you, and then donate the bounty to a local food-donation service.

“Sometimes, people will ask us to leave a box of the fruit for them, or leave some low-hanging fruit that they can pick,” said Gavin Bruce, community programs manage for ESRCD. “We’re happy to do that.”

However, if you need help with your fruit trees, you’d better move quickly. The program can account for just one more “gleaning" before funds from the county’s Health Services Agency expire.

“The main mission behind the gleanings is not necessarily to continue doing the gleanings,” said Bruce. “We’re not professional fruit pickers.”

Moving forward the ESRCD, through the hands-on experience it has gained during the pilot program’s term, hopes to fine-tune the gleaning process and share the knowledge with other organizations that may want to conduct their own gleanings.

According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 100 billion pounds of food is discarded each year in a nation where more than 30 million people live in food-insecure households.

So, even if ESRCD is unable to assist in picking your fruit, Bruce hopes to soon be in a position to connect home gardeners to an organization that can pick. Or, at the very least, connect them to donation services that will accept picked fruit.

The non-profit East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District was founded in 1996. This is the first year they’ve conducted the gleanings. For information about a gleaning, contact Bruce at 209-484-5933 or via email at

Visit for a list of food pantries and food banks that are accepting donations from farms and home gardeners.