Helpful harvest

Using shade from a plum tree, Morgan Hill resident Chris Hays

Village Harvest had a plum job in Gilroy. Between Aug. 22 and
Wednesday the nonprofit picked about 5,000 pounds of French plums
at Marco Renella’s orchard on No Name Uno to donate to the
needy.
Village Harvest had a plum job in Gilroy.

Between Aug. 22 and Wednesday the nonprofit picked about 5,000 pounds of French plums at Marco Renella’s orchard on No Name Uno to donate to the needy.

The Bay Area group organized the three-day event when Renella contacted them one week ago saying he wanted to donate his plums. Village Harvest originally planned to sweep the orchard one final time Sunday, but decided to end the harvest early.

Volunteers from the San Jose-based Village Harvest Team as well as people from Morgan Hill and Gilroy picked the plums to be taken to distribution centers such as St. Joseph’s in Gilroy and Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose.

The first wave of volunteers showed up Aug. 22 on the Northwest corner of the orchard and collected 2,370 pounds of plums from the 60-year-old trees. Thanks to the first group that shook the plums from the trees, Tuesday’s volunteers were able to pick 1,412 pounds of the fruit directly off the ground. Village Harvest estimated 1,700 poundswere harvested Wednesday.

“This is wonderful,” said Renella. “The people have been great and it’s going to a good cause. I’m going to give the plums to them next year too.”

Tuesday’s harvest started at 9 a.m. when volunteers were instructed by Craig Diserens, Village Harvest secretary and treasurer, to take a bucket and pick up fruit that was firm and had a blue coloring to it. If the plums were too dry, squishy or ripe, they would not last the two or three days it takes to deliver them to the food centers.

“The feeling that you’re giving back to the community and to the needy, is great,” said Sarah Scherfy, who has been a Village Harvest volunteer for five years. Scherfy has harvested everything from persimmons, oranges and figs for the hungry in San Jose and Gilroy. “We make sure the fruit is not going to waste.”

Though the harvest at Renella’s orchard is finished, the nonprofit works throughout the year picking fruit at orchards and at people’s houses.

“Last year Village Harvest picked 173,000 pounds of fruit,” said volunteer Bill Young, who is part of a core group at the nonprofit that meets every Tuesday morning and helps the elderly to pick fruit from their backyards. “We do a tremendous amount of good.”

Details: villageharvest.org or call (888) 378-4841.

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