A fruit tree is a terrible thing to waste! DIY - Donate It Yourself - and share your abundance to help others.

Most food banks and pantries are very grateful to receive fresh fruit and produce directly from home gardens. Your extra can become much-needed healthy food for people right in your community, and it's also good for your yard, your tree and the planet. For a list of food agencies near you, please visit our Community Food Drop Off Locations webpage.

Village Harvest is creating a new series of "how to" videos and articles to demonstrate how home tree owners can pick and donate their own fruit. These will be posted as we film them through the fruit seasons.

In the meantime, here are a few tips on determining when your fruit is ripe, easy ways to harvest, and where you can donate your fruit. Contact Us with questions, we'll be glad to help.


When is my fruit ripe?

The best way to know your fruit is ripe is to taste! Color alone can be deceiving; many fruits, especially citrus, become fully colored first and then need a month or two to become sweet inside.

Harvesting Seasons for Santa Clara Valley, based upon Village Harvest experience


How to harvest

Harvesting and donating is easy, and for most types can be done a few bags at a time rather than everything at once. It takes little or no equipment, and ladders are not needed for most. The easiest and safest way to pick fruit is by hand from the ground, often with a hand pruner/clipper for citrus or persimmons.

For fruit that's higher than you can reach, the tool our Village Harvest volunteers use the most is a telescoping pole fruit picker, available from many hardware or garden stores. These fruit pickers on fiberglass poles are lightweight, easy to store, and can be used to harvest up to 20' without getting on a ladder.

Ladder-less Harvesting Techniques, Village Harvest publication  (PDF) summarizing different techniques that our volunteers have developed over the years. 

Build your own Tree Shaker, For those who would like to use the shake-and-catch method instead of a ladder for apricot, plums, and apples.  Designed by Village Harvest volunteers to mimic the tree shakers that were used before mechanical shakers were developed. 

Harvesting Apples, from the BBC (England) gardening pages.

Fruit Drop Off Locations Map

Where can I donate my fruit?

Most food banks and food agencies are grateful to receive fresh fruit and produce from home gardens. Find a location through our Community Food Drop Off Locations map and link.