See that humongous tree there? It’s full of ripe sweet-tart apples. And by the time it’s picked clean, hundreds of pounds of fresh fruit will make its way out of this family’s yard directly to different needy charities. 

The pickers (with long orange poles topped by a claw basket) and sorters (boxing fruit) are all volunteers called to action by two young Denver guys, Jason and Philip. Seems these two good friends had this idea for a nonprofit that could harvest plums, figs, grapes, or whatever fruit homeowners didn’t need, and match it up with folks who otherwise might go without. After untangling all the legalities, this fall is the premier picking season for “Yard Harvest.”

Homeowners contact the nonprofit when apples, plums, or grapes are about to drop. Volunteers pick. And local charities get “A” or “B” fruits. (“A” fruits are ready to eat. “B” are a little too ripe but perfect for canning or cooking.) Any “C” fruits, the mushy overripe stuff, go directly to the compost pile. That’s one of the volunteers, Matt, sitting down on the job to sort apples by the A, B, C method.



So far this fall, Yard Harvest volunteers have nabbed, bundled, and delivered over 1000 pounds of fruit to local charities that include seniors, a group that delivers meals to the sick, and a food bank.  

I helped out one night after work and four of us managed to pick over 100 pounds of apples, plums, and green grapes in about an hour and a half. Another time, it took less than an hour for five of us to harvest about 10 big grocery sacks full of green and concord grapes.

Another day, volunteers picked over 300 pounds of apples from one particularly prolific tree. Can you believe it? Just one tree in somebody’s yard. It’s fruit that would have otherwise rotted or gone to waste but is now being eaten by needy folks. It’s a win-win for both homeowners (who can take a tax deduction for their donation) and for charities who don’t often see big donations of fresh fruit. 

I think it’s an amazing idea that could take place in any city and any backyard across the country. I just had to tell you about it.