General Operations
Frequently Asked Questions

We Depend on YOU!

At each harvest we depend on people who are willing to volunteer a portion of their time to help the harvest run smoothly. If you are available to help direct traffic, assist at the check-in table, or help at the donation station, check off the volunteer box when you sign up for a harvest. If your help is needed, the harvest leader may email you beforehand or assign you a task when you arrive.

Who Runs Salem Harvest?

Salem Harvest is a volunteer powered organization with two paid staff people. It was started by a group of South Salem neighbors in 2010. Our mission is to connect people with food that would otherwise go to waste, reduce hunger throughout Marion and Polk counties, and build an inclusive community. The leadership team volunteers many hours to make harvests happen.

As a non-profit organization we are entirely dependent on donations to support our efforts. If you share our mission and would like to help, click the DONATE button at the top of the page.

How Are Harvests Planned?

The Harvest Director meets with crop owners to scout the property and discuss harvest logistics. The size of the roster is determined by the amount of produce, the number of available volunteer staff, crop owner preferences, and parking space. Our goal is to have the right number of volunteers there harvesting, to pick all the produce available for us to harvest, in the allotted amount of time we have to harvest.

We are indebted to property owners and commercial growers who share our mission. Growers donate their crops for a variety of reasons. Sometimes produce is left over because it wasn't sold or wasn't ripe at the time of harvest. Some crops are unsuitable for machine harvests, and other crops didn't meet industry standards. These and many other factors mean that we don't know which large-scale crops will be available each season, and often have only a few days notice to plan harvests.

Can I Bring My Kids?

We encourage parents to bring their children; however, not all harvests allow children and some harvests will be more suitable for kids than others. Please read the harvest description on the Harvests Page. If children are not allowed or there is an age limit for children at a particular harvest, it will be noted there. If there is no mention of kids in the description, all kids are welcome.

Some donating farms have strict rules about no children or age restrictions for kids. At other times, we are harvesting near moving vehicles or other hazards are present and we restrict ages for safety concerns. We do our best to describe the harvesting conditions. As a parent, please consider your child's age and abilities before bringing them to a harvest.

All volunteers under the age of 18 must be actively supervised by an adult who is on the harvest roster. Also, no one under the age of 13 may climb a ladder, and climbing trees is never allowed. Youth under age 18 don't need to register as volunteers, but parents are required to check off the waiver form, agreeing to provide supervision.

We believe that harvesting with Salem Harvest is a valuable educational experience and a great opportunity for young folks to give back to the community!

Do I Have to Live in Salem to Participate?

Most of our harvests take place within a 10 mile radius of Salem. However, you do not have to live in Salem to participate. We have many registered volunteers throughout the Willamette Valley.

What Should I Bring to a Harvest?

  • Bring clean containers for the produce you pick.
  • Bring water to drink in a non-glass container, and please take care of any bathroom needs before arriving. We typically do not have access to a restroom.
  • Ladders - We always provide as much information as possible about the height of the trees and the fruit, so that you can make the decision about whether or not to bring a ladder. We will usually provide orchard ladders when they are useful. If you have an orchard ladder, you are encouraged to bring it. A two or three-step stepladder will be helpful at many harvests. Taller step ladders are not as stable as orchard ladders, but they can be useful where the ground is level and the trees are short. Extension ladders are not useful. No one under age 13 is allowed to climb any ladder.
  • You may want to bring gloves but they must be non-latex gloves. Gloves are not required.

What Should I Wear?

Dress for the weather. We suggest sunblock, a long-sleeved T-shirt, long pants and a hat (trees and fields are often dusty). Closed-toe shoes (a shoe that encloses the entire foot, has closed toes, closed heels, and no perforations) are required for everyone attending a harvest - kids too. (See shoe examples HERE )

Has the Produce Been Sprayed with Chemicals?

Our harvests take place at a wide variety of properties, from 10-acre orchards, to urban backyards, to 50-acre squash fields. We ask the property owner whether or not their produce has been sprayed and we include that information in the description on the Harvest Page.

Do I Have to Stay for the Entire Time?

When planning a harvest, our plan includes having all volunteers there for the full time. The more time everyone helps even after picking enough for their family's use, the more fresh, healthy food there is for hungry families in our community, and there is less produce going to waste. So, staying for the entire time is highly encouraged, and we understand that sometimes circumstances do arise and volunteers may need to leave early.

At small, backyard harvests we encourage people to stay until the crop is picked.

Why Do Rosters Fill So Quickly?

Salem Harvest has very dedicated volunteers and many of them check the Harvest Page frequently for new postings. With about 800 distinct individuals participating per year, popular harvest do fill quickly.

If you would like to receive an email when new harvests are posted on the Harvests Page, please fill out this Harvest Alert Form. Warning - this could be a lot of emails! Keep this in mind too, as the season progresses into the fall months (October and November), harvests typically don't fill as quickly.

Why Aren't There More Harvests?

Salem Harvest relies on donations from crop owners. While we do want crop owners to be aware of our service, we do not contact specific farmers to ask them to participate. After a crop is donated, our leadership team considers how many volunteers and/or harvests will be needed. We also consider our ability to staff the harvest, provide parking space and accommodate requests from the crop owner.

Why Aren't Harvest Addresses Listed on the Harvest Page?

In order to better manage harvests and protect our crop donors, only volunteers who are on the harvest roster receive exact location information. General neighborhood information is given on the Harvest Page so volunteers can better plan and choose whether they want to attend.

Who Should I Contact If I Have Other Questions?

Please check out the Contacts Page. We are always happy to help!