A group of volunteers from Utah State University is asking Cache Valley residents who own fruit trees or have a vegetable garden to allow a group of volunteers to pick their excess fruit or vegetables.
“The thing that we are looking most for in the community right now are tree owners that we can pick fruit from,” USU Food Preservation and Hunger Relief Intern Amria Farnsworth said.
In a collaborative effort through the USU Val R. Christensen Service Center, USU Extension and the Student Sustainability Office, the USU Gleaning Team is hoping to reduce food waste in Cache Valley while providing food to community members in need.
“We’re just kind of combating two problems in one,” said Kara Bachman, USU Student Waste Intern and project organizer.
Bachman and Farnsworth are working together to organize the more structured Gleaning Project, which is an extension of a similar project last year’s USU Food Preservation and Hunger Relief Intern Cassandra Twiggs started to glean fruit to preserve and donate to the Cache Community Food Pantry and the USU SNAC Pantry.
“I just wanted to make it bigger because I know there’s a lot of fruit trees here in Logan that aren’t picked,” Bachman said. “We decided to make it as an actual organization at the university under two interns.”
The structure of the project, according to Bachman, was inspired by a combination of projects she volunteered at last year, including last year’s gleaning project at USU and a gleaning program hosted by a refugee network in Tucson, Arizona.
“I guess it’s coming from a lot of different angles,” Bachman said.
The produce picked during the gleaning sessions would be divided in thirds, with one third going back to the tree owner, one third going to the food pantries and one third going to volunteers.
Produce picked that cannot be donated because it’s bruised or damaged would be either pureed or dehydrated to be donated as applesauce, pear sauce or fruit leather.