The Berkeley Gleaners

The Berkeley Gleaners pick unwanted fruit and take it to shelters and food kitchens where it is appreciated (list).   If you would like to work with us, e-mail  We pick without climbing trees; if you'd like to know about our system, see below:

Jean Francois Millet Box of Plums
  Jean Francois Millet  The Gleaners, (1865) The Berkeley Gleaners (2010)

The Gleaners will harvest your fruit by spreading sheets and shaking branches with a hook - no dangerous climbing.    For big fruit, they wear bicycle helmets!

Harvesting apples by hook and by sheet an apple
The shakedown systen - harvesting apples by hook and by sheet

apples to shelter helmets
Taking apples to a shelter in Berkeley
- photo by Sharon Summers
Tools of the shakedown system - the hook and the helmets

The shakedown system for harvesting fruit requires a hook, some helmets, and a king-size fitted sheet.    The hook is made from a 10' section of 3/4" PVC pipe, a bit of hardwood dowel,  and a bicycle hook; the dowel is held strongly into the pipe with epoxy.    Hook materials cost us about $8, the helmets and the sheets come from thrift stores and yard sales, and cost us about $4 each.

To harvest fruit from a tree takes 4 to 5 people.   First clean up every bit of windfallen fruit that is lying on the ground.   Wear helmets for apples or pears.    Four people hold the sheet by the corners, under a branch, and one of them (or a fifth person)  hooks the branch and shakes.     Much of the fruit will fall in the sheet, unbruised, but some always ends up on the ground; some of this can be washed and used, but for each piece you need to know if it has just-fallen or has been on the ground for days.    That is why you must pick up all the old fruit on the ground before you start.  

Sort the fruit.  Perfect fruit can go to the shelters whole, fruit that is bird-pecked, split, or otherwise problematic can have the bad parts cut off, and be cooked into applesauce or jam.   Due to the Light Brown Apple Moth infestation and quarantine, fruit from Berkeley should not be carried beyond the immediate Berkeley area.

Shelters and others who accept food donations in the Berkeley area - phone and ask before bringing food!

 Links in and beyond Berkeley