Fruit gleaning project helps those in need

Glean: verb to gather bit by bit, gather (leftover grain or other produce) after a harvest

Every year, as summer begins to roll into fall, in rural Colorado valleys like the North Fork, the conversations turn to falling fruit. There is a huge abundance of fresh fruit that goes to waste each year due to inability to pay harvest labor, market issues, injuries, pests and so many more nuanced reasons. 

The Just Good Food project works to support local agriculture, provide people with healthy food, and enhance food security through conservation and a more equitable food system.

This year, Colorado Farm and Food Alliance has expanded our Plant a Row project to offer fruit gleaning parties at orchards that would otherwise go un-harvested. 

So far, we have had two gleaning parties, yielding over 2000 lbs harvest of pears and apples. All of that beautiful fruit has been shared with food banks in Gunnison, Chafee, Mesa and Delta counties, school programs in Delta and Garfield counties, and to the Rosebud reservation.

A day’s gleaning will help get fresh fruit to people in western Colorado and beyond.
KVNF Community Radio story on the Just Good Food/Plant a Row gleaning project.

Fun, community action that supports people and agriculture

The idea is simple: community members are invited to help harvest a fruit crop that otherwise wouldn’t have been harvested that season, volunteers help load trucks and the food is distributed by volunteers who make drop offs at strategic distribution centers.

Neighbors who haven’t seen each other in months due to COVID restrictions are reunited around a relaxed, outdoor and naturally distanced common project and harvest. For their help, everyone also gets to take some home to eat, bake and put away for winter.

The Plant a Row project has donated over 5000 lbs of fresh fruit and produce to food banks, school programs and reservations in the last four months, thanks to all of the gardeners and farmers who have donated to the project! 

If you have an abundance of produce from your garden, we are still gathering it up to share with those experiencing food insecurity. Please consider donating to the Plant a Row project and we will get it to those who need it most.

This season the North Fork Valley has an abundance of apples and pears. Gleaning helps make sure a bumper crop does not go to waste. All photos courtesy of Kori Stanton.

You can drop off your donated produce at Edesia Community Kitchen 395 Clark Avenue in Paonia. We have two coolers, one unplugged and one cool. Both coolers are marked with a bright yellow sign that reads Plant a Row donations.

Please place highly perishable produce like tomatoes, summer squash, greens and herbs in the cool cooler and dried goods, unripe fruit, potatoes, onions, etc in the unplugged cooler! We make weekly deliveries to food banks in Delta on Monday mornings and distribute large harvests as needed.

If you have any questions or would like more information on future gleaning parties, produce donations, garden health, etc please email Elizabeth at