Thursday, February 3, 2011
How To Get Free Fruit and Produce - Open Mic!
I still wanted to can food, but buying large amounts of fruit, even directly from the farmer, made it more expensive than just buying canned fruit in the store. So I had to come up with unique ways to get cheap or free fruit. Obviously if you have family with fruit trees you can beg for any leftovers they have, but only one person in my family has a fruit tree (peach). And we love pears, cherries, strawberries, etc.
Living in our area of Washington I am blessed in the fact that orchards abound and many people have fruit trees in their yards. People of course think of apples in Washington, but we can also grow grapes, peaches, apricots, cherries, pears, and even figs. One way I get free fruit ever year is post on Craigslist that I am searching for fruit to pick. Many people don't want to bother with their fruit trees and are happy to have someone come and pick the fruit so it doesn't fall and cause flies to congregate. I have gotten cherries, plums, pears, and grapes this way.
Another way is to just keep your eyes open while driving around. Do you see an overloaded apricot tree in someones yard dropping ripe fruit all over the ground? If your brave enough go up and knock and ask if you can pick the fruit for the fee of picking up the stuff off the ground. Many times I have done this and had it pay off.
Something that perhaps only would work here is that there is a certain trailer park (yes trailer park!) that was built on a old cherry orchard. Many of the trees survived and in fact they called it Cherry Hill. This park is right next to where my husbands grandparents live so when we visit during cherry season I always go over and ask to pick the cherries from the empty lots. The park managers love it because then they don't have to clean up the rotting cherries. I canned over 40 quarts of the biggest, juiciest cherries last summer (it was an amazing year for cherries) for free this way.
Getting on your local FreeCycle is a good idea too. You can post that you are searching for any unwanted fruit or produce. I have had many people contact me through this free service.
Make friends with a farmer! Many farmers will let you glean fields or orchards if they know you and trust you. A farmer next to our property had just harvested onions and invited us to come out and get any good ones left. There were tons!
Now I'm going to open it up to my readers. Please share your tips on how to get free fruits and veggies.
Open Mic Night!