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! 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 DIY harvest of those varieties please let us know.

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 pick 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 Pick.

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 pick.

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 pick it yourself to donate!

Our volunteers can harvest as much fruit as they can safely pick 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 get all the fruit. Additionally, if your tree has a lot of dead wood or if there are electrical lines around the tree, we may not be able to harvest the fruit. We will do our best to get as much as we can and we always recommend pruning regularly for the health of your trees.

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 picking and donating your own garden veggies here.

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

You receive a tax-deductible receipt the week following your harvest for your in-kind donation that details how many pounds you donated.

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

  • Remove debris from the area around trees
  • Clean up pet poop
  • Mow grass or tall weeds
  • Clear the pathway of entry for the volunteers
  • Put animals away from the harvesting area before volunteers arrive; some volunteers may have allergies

Our events are volunteer-powered, and 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 in our core value of joyfulness! 

  • A call from our staff the week of the harvest to confirm any details (i.e. if you’ll be home, how to access the trees)
  • Kindness and respect from our volunteers and staff
  • If you are donating citrus, we may leave behind a bag of “solarizing” green waste which can be disposed of after foliage dries out. More on Asian Citrus Psyllid & HLB.
  • 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.