Harvest Fruit for the Community

Seattle is home to tens of thousands of fruit trees.  By working with nearly 400 local tree owners, volunteers, and community partners,  City Fruit stewards these trees and annually harvests tens of thousands of pounds of organic fruit every season from Seattle’s private and public orchards that we then share with communities across our city.


We then distribute this gleaned market-quality fruit to over 30 local food banks and meal programs,  share directly to neighbors through our Fruit-For-Alls (free fruit farm stands) and provide remaining fruit that needs to be processed to local cideries or eateries.


Interested in sharing fruit from your tree? Learn more here.

What is gleaning?

The USDA defines gleaning as “simply the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other source in order to provide it to those in need.”  Gleaning not only diverts excess quality food from waste, but it can also help us see where there are gaps in support for how our food is being distributed.

What types of fruit can we take?

City Fruit can accept a wide variety of fruit types, including but not limited to apples, crabapples, grapes, quince, plums, figs, Asian and European pears, kiwis, persimmons, cherries, pawpaws, apricots, and pluots.  We also accept donations of berries and tomatoes, although we ask growers to please U-Pick these fruits.

Tomatoes (U-Pick Harvest only)
Berries (U-Pick Harvest only)

*Most of our food bank partners only accept apples from netted fruit trees.  We have limited capacity to harvest pest damaged fruit and encourage growers to U-pick these fruit. For more information on pest prevention, check out our resources on bagging fruitlets and netting fruit trees.

Can we take fruit that is undersized, bruised, or buggy?

As a food justice organization, City Fruit’s priority is to harvest pest-free, market quality (USDA Size 1 or 2) fruit to share with neighbors.  If you know that your fruit is undersized (Size 3+) or pest-damaged, consider harvesting your fruit through our U-Pick program.  We may be able to redirect it to partners who can process the fruit into sauces, jams, ciders, and more!  While we can accept fruit with mild bruising for immediate processing, we CANNOT accept any fruit that has broken skin or large soft spots, as these fruits will mold quickly and contaminate other fruits in storage.   


You may also sign up your tree with us if you’d like a City Fruit team member to help harvest your fruit.  However, because we have limited staff and prioritize market quality fruit, we cannot guarantee the harvest of your tree during the season.


If you’re a baker, cider-maker, jam-maker, and want access to damaged or undersized fruits, feel free to reach out to [email protected] for more information!

The two Asian pears on the left side of the photo are USDA Size 1/2. The two pears on the right side of the photo are USDA Size 3+ fruit. The rightmost fruit cannot be donated to a food bank, and would likely be composted.
The entry holes from common pests like the apple maggot fly or codling moth can be small and sometimes difficult to notice. However, they can cause immense damage to the inside flesh of the fruit. Always check near the stem and bottom of your fruit for holes and frass (insect poop that looks like sticky sawdust).

Why do you ask for photos of the tree and fruit before coming to harvest? 

The week or two before a scheduled harvest, a City Fruit harvester may reach out to request photos of the tree and fruit.  These photos help us understand more about the height and situation of the tree (example: if the tree is on a slope or near a fence), which can help us prepare ladders and other harvest tools accordingly.  Additionally, photos of the fruit’s color and interior flesh and seeds can help us determine whether or not your tree’s fruits are ready to be harvested.  Occasionally, if its difficult to judge ripeness from photos, your harvester may ask you to describe the taste of the fruit and/or to describe how easily the fruit detaches from the branch.


By sending us photos and providing this information about your tree and fruit, you help ensure that City Fruit’s time and resources are used effectively in order to harvest and distribute the most fruit to community.  You also reduce carbon emissions from team members driving to harvests that aren’t quite ready yet.  We thank you!

Will City Fruit send harvesters when I’m not home?

City Fruit is happy to schedule harvests for trees when tree-owners are not home.  However, tree owners are responsible for securing pets and unlocking gates, as well as sharing information about any backyard hazards (example: construction or loose pavement).  Please communicate with your harvest team member about whether or not you’d like them to harvest when you are present or away from your property.  If you have neighbors that share or look after a portion of your property, we ask that you please let them know that a harvester will be onsite.


A note: At no time may harvesters enter your home, garage, shed, or basement — the tree and any tools you would like us to use must already be out and accessible for the harvester. 

What can I expect the day of my scheduled harvest?

If a harvest team member is scheduled to come when you are not home, they will follow your instructions for how to access the tree.  Harvesters will pick as much of the fruit that is ripe and accessible, unless you request for them to leave a portion of the fruit behind.  Your harvester will follow-up with you after the harvest over email to share the total pounds of fruit picked.


If a harvest team member is scheduled to come when you are home, there are a few options depending on your comfort and availability.  If you are working from home and/or would otherwise prefer not to be disturbed, the harvester will follow instructions for accessing and harvesting your tree.  If you are home and would like to be notified of when your harvester has arrived, they will knock on your front door at the beginning of the harvest and again before they leave.  Harvesters will still follow-up after the harvest over email to share the amount of fruit picked.


For continued Covid-19 safety, all harvesters will have face coverings with them and will wear them whenever in proximity to others. 

Thank you for being part of our harvest!  


Please contact us at our office line at (206) 922-3967 if you have other questions or if you need help with a harvest form!