berry recovery program
This project began three years ago, when the Northwest Berry Foundation decided to start combatting food waste and hunger in the Portland area. Normally, thousands of pounds of fruit are left in harvested fields because they aren’t economically viable to pick.
Our goal is to facilitate getting berries to those who need them. According to Dan Crunican, Food Resource Developer and the Food Bank in Salem, when it comes to fresh fruit, the bank recieves quanties of apples but very little berries. The Food Bank packages food and distributes them to a number of food pantries throughout the region.
Picture at left by Oregon Food Bank - Typical food "basket".
Here are some ways growers and/or processors can be involved in berry recovery and recieve tax credits for the berries.
- Fresh market berries can be picked by farm workers or volunteers from a non-profit organization.
- If picked by farm workers, the grower can work with us to get the berries to the Food Bank.
- If picked by volunteers, we will find a non-profit that has volunteers and can distribute the berries to the Food Bank. We will train the volunteers in food safety and farm safety and will oversee the gleaning day or days. See below for links to our GAP training sheets for vounteers.
- Growers can work with their processor to donate processed berries. In that case both the grower and the processor get tax credits.
- The donation to the Food Bank can be a certain amout of frozen or dried berries.
- The grower an also designate a field or amount of acreage to have the processor donate to the Food Bank.
- Depending on the amout of the donation, the Food Back will pick it up from the processor, or ask that the donation be brought to the Food Bank.
- Federal Enhanced Tax Deduction for Food Donation: a legal guide.
- Oregon Food Bank with links to tax credits.
- Lists of questions for growers and processors to consider before donating fruit.
- USDA's GAP User's Guide
In August, 2014, we collaborated with a farmer near Cornelius, OR, who welcomed approximately 25 St Vincent de Paul volunteers on his farm. They picked 236 pounds of fruit that first day. Two weeks later, a second group of 25 volunteers went to the same location and picked 334 pounds of blueberries.
In 2015 we partnered with the Portland Fruit Tree Project (PTFP). PTFP is a grass-roots non-profit that provides a community-based solution to a critical and growing need in Portland and beyond: access to healthy food. In July 34 PTFP volunteers were trained in the food safety regulation. As a result of the picking, 582 pounds of fruit were harvested with 392 pounds were donated to the Oregon Food Bank.
In 2016 we partnered once again with PTFP and the same farmer. About 45 volunteers harvested 1,200 pounds of fruit. After everyone sorted, weighed, and packed the fruit, the Portland Tree Fruit Project delivered the harvest to Oregon Food Bank
Building our berry donation project: The Northwest Berry Foundation and the Portland Fruit Tree Project plan to start moving more pounds of blueberries out of fields and onto to local tables. In Summer 2017, the organizations would like to host multiple harvest and donation days. The Northwest Berry Foundation will prepare for this project expansion by purchasing 200 reusable berry flats and 50 picking buckets. This will allow volunteers to glean without relying on farms to loan harvest supplies that are often already being used for different work during the busy summer months. In addition, we will build the network of farms in the donation program by connecting with local growers who want to participate with their berry fields. We look forward to providing more fruit to people who need it.