Project Pick – Saving Food, Helping Families

Courtesy photo    Jillian Saxty herself takes part in Project Pick, a service for fruit tree owners who have difficulty harvesting all their produce. There’s no reason to let good food go to waste.

Becoming involved in Project Pick was the main reason I decided to join Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) back in 2010.

While driving around town (in my electric car) I had always noticed how many fruit trees we have in Alameda. Everywhere you look there are trees loaded with many unpicked lemons, oranges, apples or persimmons, depending on the season. Alameda trees also produce plums, figs, loquats and avocados — an amazing bounty of delicious food. 

Surprisingly, many residents don’t like to eat or pick the fruit on their own trees, or are simply physically unable to harvest the fruit. Left unpicked, decaying fruit attracts squirrels, rats and flies and can leave moldy, pungent piles on the ground.

We at ABG decided it was wasteful, and, truthfully, immoral to leave food that could otherwise feed hungry families in Alameda, so we came up with Project Pick.

ABG’s Project Pick delivers all the fruit harvested by our wonderful volunteers to the Alameda Food Bank, an organization that serves more than 5,000 individuals on our Island. Just last year, through the generosity of our supporters, we were able to purchase a used van to help transport the food, as well as store our tools such as ladders and pickers. This year alone ABG has delivered more than 2,700 pounds of fresh fruit to the food bank. Since 2010, we have collected more than 11 tons of backyard fruit.

Project Pick volunteers come from all walks of life and give of their precious time to “rescue” food so it doesn’t go to waste. They are encouraged to watch our online training video and must sign a waiver. New volunteers are always teamed up with more seasoned ones so they learn the best and safest ways to pick.

ABG is always looking for more fruit trees and more volunteers. Help stop food waste in Alameda and start picking by emailing info@alamedabackyardgrowers.org or by calling 239-PICK (7425).

About ABG
Alameda Backyard Growers is a network of gardeners in Alameda interested in growing food and donating fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. Find the schedule for ABG’s monthly education meetings at www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org.

Join the Food Waste Challenge
Want to save money on your food bills? Join ABG for the Stop Food Waste Challenge and learn how to reduce food waste and save money. For more information, visit www.alamedabackyardgrowers.org/projects/stop-food-waste-challenge. To take the challenge, email ABGFoodWaste@gmail.com.