Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring my friend?

Yes! Just be sure that your friend has completed the Volunteer Contact Form at http://www.salemharvest.org/PickersInfo.php, and has signed up for the harvest along with you. We need to keep track of how many people are coming to each harvest so we don’t have too many or too few volunteers.

Can I bring my kids?

We encourage parents to bring their kids, but please be aware that some harvests will be more suitable for kids than others. Nobody under the age of 14 may climb a ladder, and climbing trees is never allowed. If the lowest fruit is not reachable from the ground, there aren't many opportunities for kids to help. At times, safety concerns for kids come into play. And ultimately growers chose whether children are welcome and what ages. There is no need to register anyone under 18 as a volunteer. As the parent, you will sign the waiver forms on their behalf.

May I take food home?

Salem Harvest has as its principal purpose the distribution of food without charge. When you register and sign up for harvests you agree to the Terms of Participation which include: “At least half of what I harvest will be donated by Salem Harvest to food agencies...Harvested produce which I take home will go to children or homeless, unemployed, elderly or low-income individuals.”

All volunteers under 18 must be actively supervised by an adult who is on the roster.

We believe that picking with Salem Harvest is a valuable educational experience and a fabulous opportunity for young folks to give back to the community. When we announce new harvests, we will call special attention to those that are suitable for kids.

Do I have to live in Salem?

Most of our harvests will take place in the Salem area, however, you do not have to live in Salem to come and pick. We have many registered volunteers throughout the Willamette Valley.

What should I bring?

  • Bring containers for your half of the harvest.
  • Bring water to drink, and please take care of any bathroom needs before arriving at the harvest site. We will not have access to a restroom.
  • A ladder will be helpful at many harvests. We always provide as much information as possible about the height of the tree and the lowest fruit, so that you can make the decision about whether or not to bring a ladder. We will provide some orchard ladders when it is useful, and we ask volunteers to share in shifts. If you have an orchard ladder you are encouraged to bring it. Step ladders are not as stable as orchard ladders, but they can be useful at level ground sites. Extension ladders are not useful. Nobody under 18 is allowed to climb a ladder. 
  • You may want to bring gloves for handling ladders or other tools.

What should I wear?

  • Sunblock
  • Long-sleeved T-shirt
  • Long pants
  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes
  • A hat (trees are often dusty)

Has the fruit been sprayed with chemicals?

Sometimes. Our harvests take place at a wide variety of properties, from 10-acre orchards to urban backyards. We ask the property owner whether or not their fruit has been sprayed with non-organic chemicals, and we will report that information to you when we schedule the harvest.

I completed the Volunteer Contact Form. Am I signed up for the harvest?

Not yet. You have completed the first step of giving us your contact information. Now you need to visit our Harvests page at http://www.salemharvest.org/harvestlist.php. Here you will find all of the open harvests that are currently scheduled. Sign up for the harvests that you would like to attend. If there are no harvests listed, then we do not have any scheduled, or the scheduled harvests are already full. Check back frequently for new postings.

I signed up for a harvest. When will I get the address?

  • After you sign up for a harvest on the harvest page, your name is added to the harvest roster. The page that appears right after you sign up shows the property address for the harvest. Write it down before you go to any other page.
  • You will also be sent an email with a link to the harvest details.
  • Make sure that we have your contact information so we can put you on the harvest roster. If you have not previously registered as a volunteer, fill out the Volunteer Contact Form at http://www.salemharvest.org/pickerinsert.php. You have to complete this form only once.

I signed up for a harvest, and now I can’t go. What should I do?

The email that you receive after signing up for the harvest has a Cancel link to follow if you need to cancel. Cancelling gives someone else a chance to attend the harvest. This also applies to the waiting list - Cancel your wait list spot too if you find out that you would not be able to attend if you were promoted to the roster.

Do I have to stay at the harvest for the entire time?

No, you are welcome to leave the harvest at any time. Some volunteers leave early; most volunteers stay for the duration of the harvest. Most harvests are scheduled for two hours. We do encourage volunteers to stay and pick more for the donation boxes even after they have picked all that they can use for themselves and their families.

Why are the harvests filling so quickly?

Hundreds of registered volunteers are checking the Harvests page. This is the ONLY place that we announce harvests that are available for signing up unless there is reason to think that we will not get enough volunteers in time. Volunteers who check the Harvests page often typically are able to get on the roster for large harvests. Some people find it helpful to make the Harvests page the home page on their browser.

Why are there not more harvests?

Salem Harvest relies on donations from land owners. While we do want crop owners to be aware of our service, we do not contact specific ones to ask them to donate. After a crop is donated, our leadership team factors Salem Harvest's ability to staff harvests, parking and the requests of the land owner to determine how many volunteers to invite and how many harvests will be hosted.

Why does the number of harvests go up without me ever seeing them posted to sign up for?

Some harvests, mostly small, backyard ones, are for training harvest leaders and so not available for public signup. The smallest ones may even have only a single person. There were about 40 of these in 2020. Also, there may be larger harvests that are posted publicly, filled up, and then removed from the harvests page before you see them.

Who runs Salem Harvest?

Salem Harvest is an non-profit organization started by a group of South Salem neighbors in 2010. The leadership team volunteers many hours of their own time to make the harvests happen because they are passionate about alleviating hunger and building community in the Willamette Valley.