A group of eager apple-pickers recently made a trip to Oregon State Hospital’s (OSH) Junction City campus.
To pick apples, of course. They were volunteers with the Eugene Area Gleaners. On this autumn day, they came to harvest apples from the nearly 300 apple trees that line the hospital’s main entrance known as Recovery Way.
“We were excited to hear about the opportunity for late apples,” said Gleaners volunteer Catherine Wilkins. “It’s been a weird year because of the temperature changes and timing of pollinators.”
The Eugene Area Gleaners is a volunteer organization that works with farmers and other food source providers to ensure food isn’t wasted. Whether it’s a farm or someone’s backyard, the group’s goal is to connect others with food resources.
“Recently I helped pick over 200 pounds of pears that otherwise would have gone to waste,” said Wilkins. “People don’t understand that there’s food right now waiting to be harvested.”
Wilkins was joined by fellow volunteer Toni Simmons. The two met for the first time picking OSH’s apples.
In the case of the Pleasant Hill farm, the volunteers donated their portion of the harvest to the nonprofit food bank FOOD For Lane County (FFLC). It was FFLC, in fact, which organized the original funding for the planting of the dwarf Liberty apple trees on OSH’s Junction City campus in 2015.