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412 Food Rescue takes up urban gleaning

Hidden Harvest targets food trees in parks and backyards

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Nobody knows how many fruit and nut trees Pittsburgh has, less still how much of that nutritious produce falls to the ground, uneaten. A new 412 Food Rescue program aims to get as much of that food to hungry people as possible. 

The nonprofit’s Hidden Harvest — which expands a project launched in 2014 by Rose Tileston and Carolyn Barber — enlists volunteers to pluck the produce growing on public and private property (all with permission, of course). 

On Hidden Harvest’s inaugural weekend, Sept. 9 and 11, working in just a handful of East End neighborhoods, 100 volunteers (including some from BNY Mellon and Repair the World Pittsburgh) gathered 1,500 pounds of apples and crabapples, says 412 program manager Hana Uman.

Two teams of six volunteers, for instance, pulled marble-sized, maroon crabapples from 15 trees in Mellon Park, along Fifth Avenue. 

The weekend’s table apples were donated to Lawrenceville United, to aid refugee communities the group serves. 

Crabapples — which as-is are mostly inedible — and bug-ridden apples went to cider collective A Few Bad Apples and Wigle Whiskey — proceeds from whose value-added ciders will help 412 keep redirecting good food from retailers to nonprofits serving the hungry.

“It went really well for our pilot,” says Uman. Next year, she says, “the goal is to harvest all the time” — including pears, peaches, mulberries, walnuts and more.

Interested in volunteering for Hidden Harvest’s October event? Email hana@412foodrescue.org.


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