What to do with excess fruit: the least amongst us

An issue in my town is a housing crisis, which makes many in poverty,or homeless, not due to any personal fault.

A program was set up for the low income to get a free raised bed and seeds, with access to a master gardener, often located at a church or elementary school. They built these on land just yard grass, on top of soil, no dig.

There were issues, like too far from a person’s home, personal responsibility to maintain it, weeds do pop up from wind and took over some spots, and tree and bush fruits could not go in them.

As I plant more trees, I am considering ways to put by, dehydrate, freeze, and use all parts of plants possible myself. But inevitably the birds and I will not get all of it. Some always will go to waste, just as I see in yards I pass by…fallen pears, apples, wasted.

Since all of you live around the world and have many large plantations, or tiny yards with few mouths to feed like I do, I am opening a topic to share how we can help others who cannot afford $3.99 lb fruit.

Gleening was a part of the past, the poorest went into fields to harvest what was not sold, including what was fallen. Less waste, less hunger. Some people we do not want in our yards. Some places have a program where tree owners call and they have citizen volunteers gleen and give 3/4 to the owner, and 1/4 goes to food pantries.

What do you think?


They want to pay $3.99/lb for fruit, they do have high standards of living. I usually buy fruit around 0.99/lb for apples, stone fruit in season, and pear in the fall only sale for 0.60/lb depends the varieties. The only popular fruit that sales for $3.99/lb is sweet cherry.

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I donate excess fruit and vegetables to a local food pantry - one with refrigerated storage. Sometimes I plant extra on purpose to donate it. There is a program of the Garden Writers Assn - “Plant a Row for the Hungry”


I think it’s a terrific idea! I know a number of people on this board already give excess production to food banks and neighbors; I suspect some of making sure to plant enough to share. My wife and I have harvested fruit from other’s trees to deliver to the food bank, but I haven’t yet committed to caring for neglected trees on others’ properties. Lord knows there’s plenty of them, and I’ve long thought it would be a great addition to a master gardener program (and have proposed same).


I donate almost all of the fruit I don’t give to friends, family, and co-workers to the local Senior Citizen Center, and usually it ends up being a LOT of fruit. However, I sometimes question this decision and think that there must be better places to donate. At the senior Citizen center I donate at, it is just a place where seniors go and participate in activities, but it isn’t a residential facility. It is an outstanding place that gives folks who may not have any/any family or friends a place to go and enjoy being around others. They do an amazing job of coming up with activities and do a lot of good. However, there is no income requirement, and while there are a lot of low income folks there, there are also a lot of people there who are much better off financially than I am! But it’s on my way to work and there are no other good outlets nearby so they get most of my fruit. Anything is better than wasting it.


Annie, your prices do not reflect stores where I live. Cherries are $5.99 lb. When there is a store that has apples under a dollar a lb they are horrible, nothing at all like what people here grow. I am growing a cherry tree because I could not afford to buy cherries for 2018.


Lois, I read about Victory Gardens. We should do that again.

I have inspired my neighbors to try growing a garden as well. This is a poor neighborhood. I may ask if they want to have meeting to learn how to grow things better, exchange ideas like we do here, and at harvest share with each other. I do not want people helping themselves and hurting my plants, but I would gladly swap fresh grapes for fresh onions.

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I’ve donated many fruits and vegetables to our local food pantry. I usually only donate produce that is common, easy to cook if needed, and has a longer shelf life like carrots, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and apples. I stay away from donating berries and such since they have a short shelf life even with refrigeration.


We have so many groceries stores here, food prices can not go up too high You can buy rib eye steak for that price here. When fruits in season it usually run way under $1. many special selection popular fruits, usually only sale for $1.99 . Over that price people aren’t buying from that store. When sweet cherry is in season,bing cherry price runs from $1.99 to 2.99 Rainer is higher could be up to $5.99. But it must be good looking good tasting, premier quality fruit. Rare fruits such as yellow dragon fruit I saw other day in store only sale for $6.99/lb,this is very expensive for fruit

Unfortunately many people do not know how to cook vegetables and don’t always use what ones gives them, so you need to put it where they actually have to choose to take it. If you just foist it on them, it may end up in the trash.

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One thing I learned when I volunteered with my friends at a food pantry was never give cans of corn to Russians and always give extra cans to the Mexicans. They explained to me that people from Mexico use corn in a lot of dishes so they are grateful if you give them extra. However they said in Russia corn is only fed to the horses, so if you put in paper bags for everybody the same canned foods they will find it as an insult to them saying that you think Russians are just animals. It’s a fascinating thing people’s culture. So sometimes it isn’t just that they don’t know how to cook vegetables, it could be that the vegetable is offensive to them. It could also be that somebody has a health problem. My mother died this January from kidney failure. It was very hard for her during the holidays because of her restrictions on foods. She could not have potatoes, or milk, or soy, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Vegetables and fruits were a tough thing to figure out what she could have. So there’s lots of reasons why people may not eat all their vegetables. However, I definitely think that offering uncommon fruits and vegetables is not a bad idea, and not all low-income people are backwards. I happen to know that a lot of people in my area are quite well educated but due to economic issues have to get food at a food bank. So they could probably cook up something really fancy if only they could afford it. I am growing the kinds of foods that I know I like. None of these things would be given to me at a Foodbank. And I will be perfectly happy of sharing with my neighbors some of my fruits and vegetables and telling them about what they are like, and even preparing it so they can see how good it can be.:relaxed:

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What to do with excess fruit? Occasionally have some excess fruit beyond our needs or my family. I have been considering setting up a small table in my yard near the road to put fruit on. The fruit would be free and intended for the people living in my subdivision. My subdivision is small but big enough that I don’t know everyone. The display would be small and only put out during times of excess. Has anyone tried this method and how well did it work?


The pantry where I donate has the food out on shelves where people can select what they want.

I think that when you want to donate, it’s best to check out the facilities and pick one with an operation suitable for produce


Sounds like a way to get to know the neighbors. Do share how that works out!

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I too had a similar experience. I always donated to the food pantry (canned goods) until I heard from 2 friends how much is wasted. People pick up pre-bagged food and then throw out the cans they don’t want as they walked down the road on their way home.
I was also informed DO NOT bring in mac & cheese that needs to be cooked. They want the heat and eat stuff that is microwave ready.

Such a waste. I too give fruit/veggies away but I live in a neighborhood full of elderly who can no longer garden so it goes hopefully to someone who will use and appreciate it. They almost fight for my extra tomatoes and cucumbers!

Apples are funny. I “donated” a /12 bushel to a neighbor who was going to cook with them. The other 1/2 I made into applesauce. A week later the neighbor came over and said I could have my apples back as they were no good! (they left them in the kitchen after making one pie and they softened up fast). I took them back and we fed them to the horses at the riding stable my daughter works at. They were windfalls and I had warned the neighbor they would not keep long. Later we shared a pint of applesauce with them and they just loved it.

No more apple donations to them! I love to share but some people do not know how to cook with fresh fruits/veggies.

The ignorance on fruit is amazing. We shared a bushel of windfall apples with another neighbor and when I mentioned they were windfalls so might have a bruise on them, she asked “what are windfalls?”

I guess sometimes I am the one getting an education when I hand out fruits/veggies.


Yes, that is why that particular food pantry, a Catholic one which got a wide range of donations, decided to have prebagged ready, remove canned corn if the person walking up was Russian, then the customers were instructed to take out at the counter each item not wanted. Those items immediately were restocked on back shelves. Then the person according to household size could choose a certain number of items they could see on a shelf by request, and the volunteer would bag them. If a person had special dietary needs, they could ask if there was any soy or rice milk in back fridge. Things like pies were on a table they could grab on way out.
That system prevented waste.


The food shelf here lets people choose what they want to take, it’s not pre bagged which i appreciate. I think it’s good to give people choices. It gives some dignity and helps limit waste.

The produce is generally labeled as “no limit,” which allows people who don’t want it to pass by, but the people who know what to do with it can take a large amount. Generally it’s older folks (there are a LOT of seniors visiting the food shelf here) and recent Asian migrants who take large amounts of produce. (I did an internship in the food shelf so had plenty of time to observe)

Produce is expensive here. It’s not often that you can find fruit for 99c a lb. Almost never, really. And if you do it’s from Aldi and it’s not always very good quality. Aldi has some good veggies but i find their fruit to be lower quality.

I grow extra tomato starts to give to the food shelf, as my trees aren’t big enough to make enough fruit for anyone yet.


I did an article on food pantries for the old DG site and interviewed the director of the place where I donate. People who donate surplus most often come with tomatoes and zukes - also cucumbers. They like to see a variety. I found that for me, green beans and green onions were easiest to grow in a small space and always welcome.

But most appreciated are the apples.


Worked out bad for me. I found people in my garden and in my orchard helping themselves to things NOT on the “free” table.