Fruit Tree FAQ


Questions about donating fruit from your trees?

We harvest nearly all fruit that grows in the Southern California region (yes, even lemons and grapefruit)! The number one rule of thumb is that the fruit needs to be edible. Think of it this way: if you would not eat it because it is too sour, rotten, unripe, or in otherwise bad shape, then we cannot donate it. At this time, we do not coordinate volunteer-powered harvest of loquats or figs, but if you are interested in doing a Do-It-Yourself harvest of those varieties, please let us know.

New fruit donors: If you haven’t already, register your fruit tree(s) on our website.

Past fruit donors: Reach out to us via email, [email protected], or call 818-850-2750 (Los Angeles County), 805-380-5169 (Ventura County) to plan for a harvest 

Once we determine that your fruit is ripe and ready and collect enough information to plan for a harvest (including recent photos of the fruit tree(s) and surrounding areas, we will add the tree(s) to our Ready to Harvest list. The Ready to Harvest list is where all of our trained volunteers sign up for the properties they would like to harvest. Volunteers choose which properties they would like to harvest based on their location, fruit type, and size of the harvest, among other details. Properties are NOT added to a cue based on sign up time. Because of this, we cannot guarantee that we get to every property, especially in the height of the citrus season (winter and spring). 

Once a volunteer signs up to harvest your fruit tree(s), we will contact you via email (or phone for those without email) to confirm a date and time. If we do not hear back from you with ample time to plan for a harvest, we will not schedule the event. Once a harvest is confirmed and scheduled, we make necessary arrangements for a successful event, including confirming a local hunger relief organization to receive the produce, coordinating equipment and boxes for the harvest, and recruiting additional volunteers, if needed. We will also call to confirm details with you the week of the harvest. 

Note: Our volunteers are not able to harvest fruit for your personal use. If you would like our volunteers to leave some fruit on the tree for your use, please let us know prior to scheduling the event. 

Food Forward is a volunteer-powered organization, which means the majority of our fruit harvests are led by volunteers. We do our best to get volunteers out to harvest all of the properties that register with us but are unable to make any guarantees as to if, or when we will be able to do so. We often have many more properties to harvest than we have volunteer event leaders available. The best way to ensure your fruit does not go to waste is to do a DIY Harvest.

Nope! If you would like us to keep some of the low hanging fruit on the tree for you to eat, just let us know when we are scheduling the fruit harvest.

In most cases, absolutely! One fruit tree can yield up to 800 pounds! Our only requirement is that there should be enough fruit for 1 or more volunteers to harvest for at least 1.5 hours. If you have less fruit than that, you can harvest it yourself to donate!

Our volunteers can harvest fruit they can safely reach while standing on the ground with a fruit picker and extension tool or hand pruner. We can typically harvest as high as 10-15 feet (or lower if the fruit needs to be hand clipped), so if your tree is above that height, we will not be able to harvest all the fruit. Additionally, we may not be able to harvest if your tree has a lot of dead wood or if there are electrical lines around the tree. We will do our best to get as much as we can, and we always recommend pruning regularly for the health of your tree.

Depending on how much extra produce you have, we may be able to harvest your garden. If you have a few spare fruits or veggies that you cannot eat, we can connect you with a local hunger relief agency so your homegrown bounty does not go to waste. Learn about harvesting and donating your own garden veggies here.

Yes, we are fully insured and each fruit pick is led by a trained Volunteer Event Leader.

Once we’ve scheduled a harvest at your property, please follow these tips to prepare:

  • Remove debris from the area around tree(s)
  • Clean up after your pet
  • Mow grass or tall weeds
  • Clear the pathway of entry for the volunteers
  • Put animals away from the harvesting area before volunteers arrive

Our events are volunteer-powered, and we strive to create great volunteer experiences. It’s highly important that you and other members of your household treat our volunteers with kindness and respect. Food Forward reserves the right to not work with fruit donors in the future for any reason, including disrespecting staff and volunteers. We appreciate your understanding and sharing our core values.

    • A call from our staff the week of the harvest to confirm any details (i.e., if you’ll be home and how to access the tree(s))
    • Kindness and respect from our volunteers and staff
    • If you are donating citrus, we are required to follow California Department of Agriculture quarantine rules to prevent the spread of Asian Citrus Psyllid. We may leave behind a plastic bag of “solarizing” green waste in your yard, which you can dispose of in 1-3 days after foliage dries out. Please read more on Asian Citrus Psyllid & HLB if you have citrus trees.
    • An in-kind donation letter (sent via email) after the harvest, which will include the number of pounds harvested and where the fruit was donated

    You will receive an email the week following your harvest for your in-kind donation that details how many pounds you donated. We will also send hard copies upon request.