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Group harvesting excess fruit from citrus trees at homes, farms

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POSTED February 4, 2009 5:11 a.m.
A group of 25 to 50 people from Crossroads Grace Community Church in Manteca on Saturday, Feb. 14, will be heading out for the second time this winter to glean citrus from trees at local farms and residences where they will then deliver them to shelters and feeding programs nearby.

It’s an idea that should seem so obvious.  The central valley has many privately owned orange and grapefruit trees thriving and producing mass amounts of fresh citrus and most of it goes to waste.  Even the largest family cannot hope to consume the fruit on an average adult tree, but the work to pick them all can be daunting.  Enter a group of volunteers willing to pick as much as the owner wishes while being careful not to damage trees or property.  

Fruit is often left on lower branches so the owners can still enjoy what their trees are producing, and the mess of rotting fruit falling for weeks on end is avoided.  It’s a win/win situation.  After cleaning up, truckloads of citrus get boxed, bagged and delivered to places like Saint Mary’s in Stockton, The Modesto Gospel Mission, Bread of Life and Second Harvest Food Bank in Manteca, and feeding programs throughout the area.  And while what’s being delivered may seem like a lot, those who minister to the hungry and homeless say they could use much more.

As the idea picks up steam, more people turn out to join this team of gleaners as they bring in the harvest, but more citrus tree owners are needed to donate a portion of their harvest for the team to pick.  Anyone interested in donating from their trees are urged to email  mlodymakr@sbcglobal.net  and a team leader will contact you immediately to answer your questions.  

Give them at least five days before the second Saturday of any month, and we will try to include a harvesting team to pick your near-harvest tree. Pre-arrange it with them throughout the year if you know your variety and/or approximate weeks of maturity for any type of fruit trees. They can harvest just the top for community use, and together, the community can bring in the harvest and feed those in need.
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