Transporting Healthy Food to Those in Need by Bike
For the last three years Portland Pedal Power has partnered with the Portland Fruit Tree Project to support the neighborhood harvesting parties sprouting up around the city. Groups of neighbors on bikes work to harvest urban trees, donating fresh fruit to local food banks. The program is expanding this year from the Richmond neighborhood to start bike harvests in Woodstock and surrounding neighborhoods; there is a current need for neighborhood participation, harvest leaders, and volunteers.
“The bike events help connect the community a little more,” says Amanda Virbitsky, a harvest leader in the Richmond neighborhood. “Instead of driving cars separately to sites, we ride together and get to experience the neighborhood together.”
Bike harvesting parties typically meet at a set location, then ride as a group to several harvesting sites. They transport all the harvest tools by bike too: fruit pickers, crates, and even an ingeniously made trailer that doubles as an orchard ladder.
Fruit is sorted by quality; everything that looks grocery store fresh is donated to the food banks, and the rest is divided up among the volunteers. Portland Pedal Power then loads the donations by cargo bike and transports the fruit to Urban Gleaners, who handles distribution of the fruit to local food pantries and food banks.
Diana Foss at Urban Gleaners says they’re grateful for the fresh fruit, most of which goes to their Food to Schools program that sets up family food pantries in schools. “Typically food bank food donations have been canned or boxed foods, not the healthiest options,” says Foss. “It’s a really important a source of fresh produce, which is usually really expensive for struggling families.”
The Portland Fruit Tree Project truly empowers Portland’s neighborhoods to share in the harvest. Homeowners and those with urban orchards can connect with the Portland Fruit Tree Project to share the bounty of their trees. Neighbors who want to lead harvests are encouraged to connect as well. Harvesters that need a delivery assist can call on Portland Pedal Power.