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Salem Harvest
Harvest Leader Manual

  Using this manual

This is a combination of a Harvest Leaders Manual, to be used for reference, and a training tool. You can browse sections in any order although the sections are set up in a rough sequence leading to harvests. This manual can be browsed by anyone, not just harvest leaders, and it may help all volunteers understand better what goes into Salem Harvest events. We are always interested in hearing from volunteers that want to become harvest leaders. Let us know if you want to learn more about that.

The many sections are listed in the left column and clicking the titles will open the main window where you are reading this. Each section includes a small part of the manual. You can browse any sections as you want at your own pace.

In some sections there is a button labeled 'Fill in the blanks' at the bottom. Clicking on this button shows the text of the section with dropdown lists that you can select from to check yourself. Incorrect answers have a red background; correct ones, white. You can use the Tab key to move between lists and the arrow keys to select your answers.

There is a button labeled 'Multiple choice' at the bottom. Clicking on this will open another frame that includes a question and three possible answers labelled A, B and C. Clicking on the answer buttons changes their color: red if the answer is wrong; green if it is correct. Selecting the correct answer opens a second question frame. There may be up to five questions in any one section. When the last question is answered correctly, a link appears to the next section of the manual.

There is a print version with the complete text of this online manual [] here .

The self-check questions are not a test. They are a way for you to check your understanding of the material in the section. No answers are saved; all answers disappear when you go to another page. Most questions are specific to the section material, but others may just require common sense or a little bit of research. The questions may also present additional information on the topic. Most questions are easy and some are very difficult (no one gets them all right).

The point of the self-test questions is to encourage a thoughtful, and possibly entertaining, approach to the material which if presented in straight text can be pretty tedious.

Have fun and learn a lot!

This manual
Is intended to inform and entertain.

Scores on the self-tests:
Are never saved anywhere at any time. They exist only on your computer and disappear when you move to another page.

If you are interested in becoming a harvest leader:
Talk about it with harvest leaders and board members.

  Leaders Overview

As a harvest leader you have specific responsibilities, but also the support and resources that you will need to lead efficient and productive harvests. Do not hesitate to ask for help at any time.

In this manual we will cover all of the steps required to successfully lead a harvest. Which steps are necessary for a particular crop can vary a lot according to the size of the crop, but the overall process is the same for all harvests: We find excess produce, organize volunteers to harvest the crop, and see that it gets to food agencies for distribution to those who need it.

Key roles for harvests

Farm Harvest Leader – Farm harvest leaders are responsible for the supervision and management of farm harvests. Typically, this only involves day of harvest activities.

Backyard Harvest Leader – Backyard harvest leaders are responsible for the planning and management of backyard harvests. Typically, this includes contact with home owners, scouting the property and planning the harvest.

Co-Harvest Leader – Co-leaders for both farm and backyard harvests are typically leaders in training. When a co-leader is available/ assigned, the leader is in communication with the co-leader about how to share the responsibilities.

Harvest Director – The harvest director is responsible for scouting, planning and oversight of all farm harvests. The harvest director assigns leaders for farm harvests and obtains and coordinates resources to support those leaders. For farm harvests this may include transportation of ladders, produce and the ATV.

Assistant Harvest Director – The Assistant Harvest Director is responsible for assisting the Harvest Director in the management of harvests assigned to him or her and in coordinating necessary resources for planning and implementing those harvests.

Backyard Harvest Coordinator – The backyard harvest coordinator maintains the backyard harvest leader sign-up page, scouts backyard properties, and is the contact person for backyard leaders who need assistance.

Database Manager – The database manager maintains records of all harvests, crops and volunteers. The database manager also receives new crop registrations by phone or through the website, gathers preliminary information about the crop, enters the information into the database and notifies the harvest director. The database manager also manages the email system and monitors the signup process.

Backyard Property Scout – The scout contacts the property owner to arrange to visit the site, assess the crop, obtain the Entry Authorization signature from the owner, and make plans for harvesting the crop. The scout is typically the harvest leader for the potential property and can be the harvest director or backyard harvest coordinator.

Drivers and transporters – We have light-weight aluminum orchard ladders, an ATV and trailers that are available for harvests. ATV drivers are approved by the state to drive the ATV. Truck drivers are approved by Marion Polk Food Share or Salem Harvest to drive the trucks.

Harvest Assistants – Farm harvests can be done only with the help of other volunteers who are assigned to specific jobs: parking, check-in, donations, hand-washing, ladder attendant, and orientation.

Harvest leaders:
Are responsible for the supervision and management of individual harvests.

The Volunteer Coordinator:
Leads efforts to recognize and appreciate Salem Harvest volunteers

The Database Manager:
Gathers preliminary information about the crops that are registered online.

ATV drivers:
Must pass a state certification exam.

Harvest Assistants
Are assigned to tasks by the harvest leader.

  Property Registration

A property owner registers their crop, whether tree, field or orchard, with Salem Harvest using either the online form or by telephone. The database manager then,

Crops remain in the database from year to year and do not have to be re-registered. In spring, owners of backyard crops are sent an email reminding them of Salem Harvest and asking that they call if their produce is ripening faster than usual. Crops that are not expected to be sufficiently productive may be marked as 'Inactive,' rather than deleted, if they have already been harvested at least once.

Crop owners register by:
Filling out an online form or calling (503) 400-6618 ext. 1

Re-registration of existing crops:
Is not necessary.

Crops that do not produce enough one year:
Are marked 'Inactive' only if they are not expected to ever produce in the future.

  Property Assignment

For farm crops, the harvest director arranges for the site to be scouted and then contacts harvest leaders to determine who will lead the harvest. There may be more than one harvest leader for any given property.

Assignment of harvest leaders for farm crops depends on availability and experience of harvest leaders. Attempts are made to match leaders to suitable harvests and to distribute opportunities to all harvest leaders who are interested in leading this type of harvest.

For backyard crops, leaders can sign-up to lead harvests through the website. The database allows for designating a harvest leader and a co-leader. Sometimes, the co-leader is someone who is in training ('Green') but not yet certified ('Ripe'). Other times both leaders are Ripe. In either case it is essential that the two leaders communicate and coordinate the preparations for and execution of all responsibilities of the harvest. They may divide tasks but are jointly responsible for overseeing the harvest.

A harvest leader participating in scouting the crop:
Is preferred.

Harvest leaders:
Let the harvest director know their preferences.

Harvest Co-leaders:
Are involved in all phases and jointly responsible for overseeing the harvest.

 Backyard harvest signup

For backyard crops requiring eight or fewer pickers, the database manager enters an unscheduled harvest into the planner and posts it to the [] Harvest Leaders page where Ripe leaders can sign up to lead or co-lead the harvest and Green leaders can sign up to co-lead. The two then coordinate their schedules to arrange and conduct the harvest. Green co-leaders follow the lead of the Ripe leader as part of training. Access to this page requires a username and password that are assigned to trainee (Green) and certified (Ripe) harvest leaders. All harvests should have a Ripe harvest leader.

This page is the central resource for harvest leaders. It lists backyard harvests for harvest leaders and co-leaders to sign up to lead. Farm harvests are not on this list and are assigned by the Harvest Director. You should bookmark this page and refer to it often for the latest information about upcoming harvests that you can sign up for. It also has links to other information and resources for planning harvests, including this manual.

Crops are placed on this list at the beginning of the season from the registered crops list. Some have been picked before and some have not. In most cases, the harvest leader who signs up for the crop is making the first contact with the crop owner that year. The first question for you to ask the owner is whether the crop is available that year and if the owner wants the crop harvested. This is followed by making arrangements for scouting and/or harvesting. Scouting is important because backyard crops can vary between years and so some crops on the list may not be suitable for harvesting.

After leaders have signed up to lead a harvest on this page, the harvest may be removed from this list so that the ones still needing leaders can be seen easily without having to scroll through a long list of harvests that already have leaders. The harvests you sign up to lead can still be found on the Harvests page, the Season Planner list view, and the 'My upcoming harvests' link on the Leaders signup page. If a harvest on the Leader Sign-up page is going to be dropped or not harvested, the Database Manager will contact the leaders for that harvest if they exist.

To see more details about a crop, click on the link in the Crop & owner column. To volunteer to be the harvest leader, simply type your first and last names in the Leader column and click on 'Sign up to lead.' You will receive an email with all the details about the crop and the harvest. The date that is shown may be an actual scheduled date that has already been arranged OR an estimate based on previous harvests OR the estimated ripe date. Crop readiness can vary by several weeks from year-to-year and this should be kept in mind when signing up to lead. It is far better to contact the owner a little early than too late. More details about the page and how to use it can be seen in the Database: harvest leader signup section below.

Harvests listed on the Harvest Leaders page:
Are available for harvest leaders to sign up to lead.

Harvests listed on the Harvest Leaders page:
Are mostly backyard harvests.

Crops listed on the Harvest Leaders page:
May have never been picked before by Salem Harvest.

  Scouting: steps

For large (farm) harvests the Harvest Director or site scout contacts the property owner to arrange a visit at the site. For some smaller harvests, when the crop and owner are well-known from previous years, a harvest might be planned without a scouting visit. For small harvests the harvest leader most often contacts the owner to find out about the crop and then may combine scouting with picking the crop. A ‘scout-and-pick’ packet, linked on the Crop Details page, is used in that case. This saves doing a separate scouting trip, but risks having other volunteers arriving and finding that there is nothing suitable to pick. For newly registered, small crops the database manager will often have done a preliminary scouting.

For all size crops, the first steps of scouting come before going to the site. If there have been previous harvests of the crop, there may be vital information in the Crop Details page or in the Other Info section of the detail pages for previous harvests. Previous harvest leaders have put that information there because they believe that it will be useful to you. Find it and read it.

There are other sources of information can be checked before going to the site so that you have a framework or context to do the best scouting. For farm crops, aerial views in Google Maps or the Crop Detail page can give you a preview of the area. For crops with which you are unfamiliar, a web search can teach you about the crop, how it grows, and when and how it is picked. You want the grower to have confidence in your ability to manage the harvest and your having some knowledge of the area and the crop beforehand will help.

For large harvests a team that may include harvest leaders, site scouts, and the Harvest Director tours the property with the owner. For large harvests it is best to have several experienced people.

Using the Harvest Planning Form the team assesses the property and makes plans for how to best run the harvest. This form is a checklist of factors to consider and a reminder of the information that is necessary in order to post the harvest.

The site visit of new crops is important for establishing a good working relationship with the property owner. We want property owners to have confidence that Salem Harvest is well-organized, professional and competent. At the site visit they are still deciding whether to trust us with their property and their crop. It may be helpful to relate some of Salem Harvest’s experience with similar crops.

Topics that should always be covered with the property owner:

When scouting large crops:
People who have harvested the crop before can be helpful.

The Entry Authorization Form:
Is a required step when scouting.

Important areas to include in scouting are
Boundaries and hazards.

The Liability Waiver:
Protects the property owner.

  Scouting: amounts

The specific site information that is needed to plan a successful harvest may vary, but getting all the details is important. This means obtaining and writing down measurements and numbers. Do as much specific measuring and counting as possible because the decisions that you make later will depend on these details. Quick estimates can be very inaccurate, especially if you are making them later from memory. It is very hard to look at an orchard and estimate a weight. It is much better to estimate one typical tree and multiply by the number of trees, for instance.

Scouting and research about the crop must eventually be distilled down to two numbers: How many pounds are available to harvest? and How many roster slots will be posted for the harvest?

How many pounds are available to harvest?

Several sources of information may be needed to determine this. The more corroborating sources you have, the better. Property owners tend to know their crops well, but have sometimes been very inaccurate in estimating amounts. Do not rely solely on crop owners' estimates.

Things you can do to get an accurate estimate of the pounds that are available:

When a leader has more experience at scouting:
You find that aerial views in Google Maps are useful.

If you pick a sample amount when scouting:
It is one measure to include with other ways of estimating a crop.

An orchard has 15 rows of 5 trees each. You estimate 75 pounds on the average tree. About how many pounds are available?

A one acre blueberry field has plants all spaced 4 feet apart. You pick a typical bush and get 2 pounds. An acre is about 43,000 square feet. About how many pounds are there to pick?

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers in half a row of a 6 row garden, and a peck of pickled peppers weighs 22 pounds, how many pounds are there to pick?

  Scouting: layout

Physical Layout of the Harvest

The overall layout of the harvest is done to make an efficient flow of volunteers and produce and is adapted to the requirements of the site. For small harvests the logistics and layout may be simple and obvious. For large ones it can require considerable planning to avoid bottlenecks at the harvest. For large harvests volunteers travel along this sequence:

Plan for movement through each of these steps so there is enough room and reasonable distances. It is nearly always best if check-in is between parking and the field. The donation area is best adjacent to check-in, but not so close that flow is confusing between volunteers entering and leaving the field.

The donation area also must be easily accessible for the food agency truck which may need more room than cars for turning and a firmer surface to support its weight.

At large harvests, the scheduled starting time:
Is enforced to ensure that all preparations have been made.

Planning the overall layout:
Smooths the flow of pickers through all steps.

Assistants doing check in:
Each take a portion of the roster if it is a very large harvest.

Roped check-in lines:
Help an orderly process.

Which order of picker flow works best?
Harvest orientation - ladder sign out - picking

  Scouting: parking

The large number of volunteers that are needed for farm harvests means careful planning for parking. This can be a sensitive issue for crop owners because parking is often on grass or dirt and can tear up the ground or compact it, or even risk fire from hot exhaust pipes on grass. Always discuss parking with the property owner and get explicit agreement. Parking can also be the limiting factor in how many volunteers can be included. As with the crop itself, actual measurements are important. Cars take up a surprising amount of room. Here are some guidelines:

Parking for cars:
Is limited to areas the owner designates.

A harvest has parking along a road with 2 ten-foot wide shoulders. How many cars will fit in a quarter of a mile?

There is room for 25 cars at a harvest. How many pickers can be expected?

A field 100 feet long and 40 feet wide will fit how many cars?

A harvest is posted for 100 pickers. If they can park head-in along one side of a road, how many feet of road are needed?

  Scouting: how many pickers?

This number depends on many other numbers. The number of volunteers is a balancing act: too few volunteers may mean leaving good food in the field; too many may mean volunteers leave with too little for themselves.

Several numbers go into the calculation:

Which is not a major factor in figuring how many roster slots to set for a harvest?
The number of harvests that have already taken place of that type of produce.

How many filled banana boxes of apples (40 pounds each) can be loaded on the truck?

If pickers typically donate 100 pounds of apples, how many pickers are needed for the harvest in question 2?

How long can a harvest be if it is on October 8 at 5:00pm and lasts until sunset?
1.5 hours

Extra credit: A broccoli harvest has unlimited parking and unlimited produce. Pickers typically donate 60 pounds each. A box of broccoli weighs 25 pounds. The truck holds 8 pallets of six rows stacked six high. There is only one truck. How many pickers do you need?

  Scouting: paperwork

Send or deliver the Entry Authorization Form to the Database Manager. A customized version of this form can be printed from a link on the Crop Details page for that crop.

The Entry Authorization Form is our only evidence that we have permission to be on the property and to take the produce. It is stored for future reference and does not have an expiration date on it. However, always get a new form signed each year. This further protects Salem Harvest as a backup and is a reminder for the owner about the importance that we put on permission.

The harvest planning form is the worksheet for determining how many pickers to set the roster for as well as all the other details of planning the harvest. It does not need to be saved past the harvest. The important information on it that may be of use to future harvest leaders of that crop should be entered into the Crop Details. All 'Ripe' (certified) harvest leaders have access to the database page, [] Crop Update , where this is done.

The Entry Authorization Form:
Is evidence that we have permission.

All Ripe harvest leaders can:
Update crop details based on scouting.

  Harvest: posting

If the meeting with the property owner is close to the time that the crop will be ready, then the date may be set when the site is scouted. If the date is not set at that meeting, work with the harvest director to keep in touch with the property owner so there can be as much lead time as possible to post the harvest for signup. When the harvest leader and harvest director have set a date and time for the harvest with the property owner, call or email this information to the database manager.

The harvest cannot be posted for public signup without these essential pieces of information:
Small harvest roster slots are usually filled by harvest leaders and trainee leaders and are usually not posted for public signup. This is to provide as much experience as possible for them. Leaders of small harvests can use the eMailer to easily send invitations to other leaders and trainees to sign up for the harvest, although they also can be checking the Season Planner to see what small harvests are available. The second link on the [" target=")_blank">Harvest Information and Roster page should be used as this enforces the limit on the number of pickers.

Which piece of information is not needed to post a harvest for sign up?
Tools to bring to the harvest (clippers, buckets, etc.)

The short information that is included on the public Harvests page
Is not specific about the location.

Backyard harvests:
Are often added to the Season Planner without posting them for public signup.

  Harvest: signup and roster

The sign up process is fairly complicated, but mostly automatic, however harvest leaders need to know how it all works so they can have the right information at the harvest.

The number of pickers is set by the Harvest Director when the harvest is posted. The number of needed assistants is set then also. As volunteers sign up online, the roster slots are filled. If they indicate that they can assist, this shows on the sign up page also. If a point is reached where the number of open roster slots left is the same as the number of needed assistants, then the only options available are to sign up to assist or go on the waiting list.

When all roster slots are filled, the only option is to go on the waiting list. The waiting list can keep increasing until the harvest is set to "closed" using the Harvest Update page. Typically, the harvest is left “open” until a few hours before the harvest, however, there is no reason to leave a harvest open for sign up when all slots are filled and the waiting list is overwhelming long.

For some harvests, circumstances show that more pickers are needed than was posted. In this case the Waiting List Manager (linked from the Harvest Roster and Information page) can be used to promote any number of waiters and to increase the number of roster slots. Note that increasing the number of roster slots on the Harvest Update page does not promote anyone from the waiting list. That must be done through the Waiting List Manager. Typically, increasing roster slots and promoting volunteers from the wait list is done by the Harvest Director or Assistant Director.

Closing the harvest means that it will no longer appear on the public Harvests Page. However, there will still often be changes to the roster because volunteers on the roster can still cancel their slots and those on the waiting list can be promoted to fill them. This can happen up until the time of the harvest. This allows those on the waiting list every chance to get to the harvest if there are last-minute cancellations. It also means that you have the best chance of having all the pickers that you need.

It is best to print the roster for the harvest as close to the harvest time as you can because of the changes that can happen after that. You should also include the waiting list in your harvest packet. This is because late promotions will arrive at the harvest but will not be on the regular roster if you printed it before they were promoted. When they check in, the assistant can look at the waiting list to verify that they have probably been promoted. It is also possible to use a smart phone to check the current, exact list online.

It is best to:
Calculate how many assistants are needed as closely as possible.

Volunteers on the waiting list:
Have sometimes come to the harvest anyway and waited in the car, checking online with a phone, hoping to get a last minute promotion to the roster.

The waiting list:
Does not give priority to volunteers who have indicated that they will assist.

  Harvest: assistants 1

Harvest Leaders work closely with the Harvest Director to be clear about which of the tasks are their responsibility. Gather everything that is needed to successfully lead the harvest. Check-in with the Harvest Director to determine if there is anything unusual about the property. Typically, an aerial map created by the Harvest Director showing location, parking areas, harvesting areas and paths of travel, will be shared with Harvest Leaders and other volunteers needing this information. Familiarize yourself with the types and varieties of fruit and review all location information to ensure you are ready for the harvest. Ask if something is not clear.

When roster slots for the harvest are filled, download a copy of the Harvest Roster Packet from the website. The information typically needed is the harvest information (owner’s name & address), roster, wait list, assistants list, donation form, and ladder scores if necessary. Do not print the volunteer roster until the harvest is closed since the roster could change after you print it. Harvest Leaders are expected to print and bring the packet and a couple of liability release waivers for harvests that they are leading.

Harvest Assistants

The list of volunteers who have signed up as harvest assistants is included on the roster. You will instruct them to arrive early and check in with you. Email addresses are on the roster so please contact harvest assistants before the harvest with instructions and let them know when to arrive. A template for this email can be found linked on the Leaders Resources page and the Documents page. Assistants are not expected to spend more than 30 minutes assisting so they have ample time to also pick. On rare occasions, volunteers may spend all of their time assisting and, when this is the case, they may get produce directly from the donation boxes at the end of the harvest. The assistants’ jobs are designed to be specific and well-defined so that they can be assigned and explained at the harvest. Typically, all harvest assistants should arrive 20-30 minutes early. The following list includes the instructions to give to assistants. Not all of these may be needed, depending on the size of the harvest and the crop.

Parking: Assistants direct cars to the parking area and ensure orderly parking. This may mean asking volunteers to reposition their cars. Explain the parking plan. Explain any special considerations or concerns.

Check-in and roster: Assistants mark off volunteers on the roster as they check in. This is the most complicated of the assignments. There are several details that are necessary to having a good record of the attendance:

The harvest roster:
May have changes even after the harvest is closed.

Harvest assistants:
Are generally given instructions about when to arrive by the harvest leader if they need to be there early.

Parking assistants:
May have to be assertive in directing volunteers.

Check in assistants:
Greet pickers and mark off who attends the harvest.

  Harvest: assistants 2

Handwashing Station: For farm harvests, a hand washing station will be provided. An assistant can monitor supplies, direct volunteers, and explain the procedure. Pumping soap, helping with the water spigot and handing out paper towels, helps speed up the process. Latex gloves are not allowed in the field. Non-latex gloves can be found in the harvest tote for volunteers who wish to wear gloves. Even people who wear gloves, need to wash their hands before putting on the gloves.

Harvest orientation: Assistants read the text prepared by the Harvest Leader or Harvest Director about the crop, boundaries, picking technique, etc. An outline of the orientation script can be downloaded [">here. Note that this is only an outline and must be customized for each particular harvest.

Ladder safety Orientation: The assistant first asks if any volunteers in the group have already passed the ladder safety test online. Those that say they have are verified on the list that is printed with the roster. These volunteers are given ladders without having to hear orientation. Then the assistant presents the ladder safety orientation to the rest and distributes ladders. With harvests where ladders are far from the ladder trailer or there is potential that ladders will be left in the field, the ladders are handed out in exchange for driver’s licenses to ensure their return. The Ladder Safety Orientation can be downloaded ["> here.

ATV driver: The ATV assistant must have passed the State’s test and have an Oregon All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Education card and be approved by the board. Coordination of the ATV route to and from the crop and the placement of the donation area should be planned in advance and reviewed with the driver and donation assistants. At harvests of heavy produce that use the ATV, it is essential that the driver have enough help loading and unloading the trailer. Ideally, the driver will just drive and others will manage the loading and unloading. ATV Safety Procedures and Policies can be downloaded [">here .

Donation area: Assistants monitor and direct the donation of produce. Details of this job vary with the crop and transportation vehicle. This can include setting up boxes, loading the truck, helping volunteers fill clamshells, boxes or totes, monitoring the quality of produce and inviting volunteers to write a thank-you note to the property owner. Donation assistants should plan to stay until the end of the harvest. At harvests using a truck and boxes, the first task is to empty the truck and prepare for donations before the harvest starts, so some assistants in this area should arrive early.

Truck driver: Truck drivers for Marion Polk Food Share or Salem Harvest truck will typically be assigned by the Harvest Director. The database contains a list of approved drivers in case of emergencies.

The harvest orientation script:
Sets the tone and conveys the spirit of Salem Harvest for pickers.

Ladder safety orientation:
Can be skipped by those volunteers that have passed an online test.

The ATV driver:
Should have the route between the truck and the crop planned for efficiency and safety.

Donation area assistants:
May be the last assistants to leave the harvest.

Truck drivers:
Are approved by Marion Polk Food Share to drive their trucks.

  Harvest: containers

For most large harvests the harvest director will arrange for trucks and containers with Marion Polk Food Share. It is crucial for the harvest leader, the harvest director and the food share staff to be clear about what is needed for the harvest. Do not leave it to food share staff to figure it out. Having the truck arrive at the harvest with the wrong containers or equipment can disrupt all the harvest plans.

From the scouting and harvest planning an estimate has been made of how much produce is expected. This needs to be translated into the required trucks, containers and equipment. Starting with some numbers (some of these are also found in the 'Database: formulas' section:

One large truck holds
8,000 pounds maximum
8 wooden pallets
8 medium (44" or 40") totes
8 cardboard melon totes on pallets
4 large (48") totes

We want to deliver produce to the food share in the containers that require them to do the least repacking. If we deliver apples in large totes, then each apple that our dozens of volunteers picked must be individually moved to smaller containers by food share staff. It is far more efficient overall for us to pack them in smaller containers as we pick. It also is less damaging to the produce.

Small fruit like strawberries, blueberries, and sometimes even cherries go into plastic clamshells.
Larger produce like apples, pears, onions and plums goes into banana boxes.
Largest produce like squash and pumpkins goes in field totes.

The smaller the container, the simpler it is to just get extras as a cushion. An extra case of clamshells is no trouble at all on a truck. Extra large wooden totes with steel frames (more than 200 pounds empty) make a lot of extra work because (for any harvest) the whole truck must be unloaded before the harvest.

Hold about 2.5 pounds
9 clamshells into a banana box
184 clamshells in a full case of clamshells
This means that 1 case of clamshells fills 20 banana boxes.

Banana boxes
6 on each layer on a pallet
5 layers (usually) of filled boxes on a pallet
6 layers (occasionally with lighter produce) on a pallet with wrapping or tying
7 layers (or 6 layers) of empty boxes on a pallet when we receive them at the harvest
Banana boxes are often provided in a 6 or 7 layer stack on a pallet wrapped with plastic. If the produce is going to be stacked only 5 layers high you need an extra empty pallet or two. Be sure to calculate the actual number of boxes and pallets that you need.

Field totes
There are several types and there is not always a choice about what is available. Cardboard melon totes on pallets hold about 600 pounds. Medium totes hold about 800 pounds. The largest wooden totes hold 1000 pounds. These are pretty rough numbers that vary with the produce and how much the totes are heaped.

Pallet jacks
Any time that you get pallets, you need a pallet jack. Never get an electric pallet jack. Always ask for a manual pallet jack.

Plastic wrap
If pallets of boxes will need to be stacked 6 layers high (broccoli is a good example since it is light), the layer(s) should be wrapped so that it does not topple in the truck. Sometimes we can get plastic wrap on a roller. Other times we have saved the warp from the stack of empty boxes and used that to tie around the top layer of the filled boxes.

Single-wall boxes
These boxes are about two-thirds the size of a banana box. The bottoms need to be folded and taped. They are much less strong than banana boxes and cannot support nearly as much weight above them.

They fit ten to a layer on a pallet but are usually stacked only 3 layers high. Four layers is possible if the boxes have no more than 20 pounds in them and the stack is wrapped fully with plastic wrap.

You expect to donate 4,000 pounds of broccoli that you know from experience is about 25 pounds per banana box. What do you need from the food share?
Large truck, 6 stacks of banana boxes on pallets, 1 manual pallet jack, roll of plastic wrap

Explanation for question 1:
4000 pounds at 25 pounds per box = 160 banana boxes.
160 boxes stacked 5 high and 6 boxes to a layer = 5+ pallets
160 empty boxes at 36 to a stack = 4.4 stacks of empty boxes
So you need 5 pallets of empty boxes. If you stack them 5 high you would need another empty pallet, so go 6 high instead but you need to wrap them. Add another pallet in case you get more broccoli than you expected.

You are planning a blueberry harvest and expect to pick 1,600 pounds of blueberries. What do you need from the food share?

Small truck, 2 stacks of boxes, pallet jack, 3 boxes of clamshells

Explanation for question 2:
1600 pounds picked = 800 pounds donated (this step is easy to forget!)
800 pounds = 32 boxes of filled clamshells
32 boxes is a little less than one stack of empty boxes 6 layers high
32 boxes need 32 x 9 = 288 clamshells
2 cases hold 368 clamshells or enough for 40 banana boxes. That should be plenty but a box of clamshells does not take much room on the truck.
Allowing extra of everything in case you get more than you expect, round up to two stacks of boxes and 3 boxes of clamshells.
This can all fit in a small truck.

You are planning a squash harvest and expect 12,000 pounds of squash to be picked. What do you need from the food share?

2 trucks, 12 medium totes or 16 cardboard melon totes, pallet jack

Explanation for question 3:
This one is hard because pickers do not actually keep half the squash they pick, but we do not have any good numbers about how much less. They probably keep no more than a third. If they donate half (6,000 pounds), you will need one truck; if they donate more than two-thirds (8,000 pounds) you will need two trucks.

For this kind of problem it may be best to start with the number of pickers and look up the historical number of pounds per picker donated in the Reports Generator.

Assuming that they will donate 75%, or 9,000 pounds, you need two trucks. If there are cardboard melon totes that hold about 600 pounds, you need 15 of them (make it a full 16). If there are medium totes you need 11+ (round up to 12).

Next section

  Harvest: preparations

Obtain Supplies for Farm Harvests

The harvest supply tote, harvest picking containers, handwashing station, canopy, and table will be stored at Salem Harvest’s storage facility during harvest season or within the Salem Harvest truck. The canopy will only be used under special situations, like high temperatures or forecasted rain. Typically, the other supplies needed for a harvest will arrive with the food transportation vehicle. On rare occasions, the harvest leader will need to pick up the supplies to take to the harvest.

When the signups are closed, the harvest leader will be able to download it from the Harvest Roster and information Page that links from the [] Season Planner . The packet includes all the necessary paperwork for the harvest: crop and owner information, volunteer roster, harvest assistants, food donation form, certified ladder users list, and waiting list. Please print this packet along with a few Temporary Volunteer Registration and Release Liability Forms in case volunteers who are not on the roster show up to the harvest. This is available [">here.

Write the text for the orientation or receive it from the Harvest Director and print copies to bring to the harvest. An outline of the orientation script can be downloaded [">here. Note that this is only an outline and must be customized for each particular harvest. In writing it, keep these points in mind:

Assistants need to be told that their services are needed and appreciated. Due to past experience that assistants aren’t always punctual, we ask that all assistants arrive 20 minutes early for harvests with 25 or less pickers, 30 minutes early for harvests with 25 or more pickers. The same basic email can be sent to all assistants for the same harvest. The eMailer [] can be used to send email to just those volunteers who have indicated that they can assist. If you want to use your own email program, the [] Email Lists can produce a list of the names and email addresses for the assistants to copy and paste. A template for this email can be found on the Documents page andlinked from the Leaders Resources page. Please email assistants at least 8 hours before the start of a harvest.

Obtain Supplies for Backyard Harvests

If you will need orchard ladders for your harvest, contact the backyard harvest coordinator to arrange for assistance. Also, work with the backyard harvest coordinator to resource boxes for the donated produce. Boxes may be available at the storage container, at other leader’s homes or you may need to stop by a store to pick some up.

Hand-washing is required by MPFS at all harvests before picking. This includes using running (or poured) water, soap and drying with a dry cloth or paper towel. At backyard harvests, this could be as simple as a gallon of water, a bar of soap and a few towels to dry hands on.

Writing an orientation may be necessary for some backyard harvests. Follow the orientation writing notes in the section above.

The white canopy:
Provides weather protection and identifies the check in location.

The harvest paperwork packet:
Has several formats that can be used depending on the type of harvest.

The Marion Polk Food Share staff:
Are very cooperative and do their best to provide the containers that we need.

  Harvest: leading large harvests

Property Owner: Arrive early enough to set up and if possible, to let the property owner know that you are there. Answer any questions and attend to any other issues that need to be resolved with the property owner. Often, the harvest director will arrive with you to provide introductions and/ or further instruction.

Set-up: Together with your co-leader and assistants, set up the Salem Harvest directional signs, intake table, hand washing station and donation area according to the Harvest Map and Harvest Plan sent to you by the harvest director.

Harvest Assistants: Welcome harvest assistants as they arrive and assign them a task and familiarize them with their responsibilities. It is common for circumstances to have changed between the plan and the harvest, so flexibility and problem solving with everyone involved is often necessary. Harvest assistants are an important part of our volunteer team so we want them to feel welcome and useful. Be sure to supervise them throughout the process and be available for questions.

Supervise: Actively monitor the harvest by keeping an eye out for safe use of ladders, adequate supervision of children, protection of the property and reasonable quality of produce picked. It can be tempting as harvest leader to dive into the picking yourself, and this is possible for smaller harvests. For larger ones it is better to circulate to monitor the big picture of the flow of pickers and produce to help solve bottlenecks as they arise. Make a note of any problems encountered and any individuals of concern on the Post-Harvest Summary or report to harvest director.

Medical incidents: The rule to follow for medical incidents is “If it requires more than a band-aid, get professional medical help.” This may mean calling 911.

The harvest leader:
Is the one person at a harvest who can have the best view of the overall flow of produce and pickers.

Harvest assistants:
Are most comfortable when they get good instructions about their assignments

Property owners:
May raise issues during the harvest that were not covered in the planning.

  Harvest: leading small harvests

The harvest leader is actively involved in all parts of small harvests as compared with farm harvests where many tasks are delegated. Backyard harvests offer their own kind of satisfaction in that the leader is in charge of the whole process and there is often a more relaxed atmosphere.

Because many volunteers have not experienced backyard harvests, the whole sequence is covered in this section even though it repeats parts of earlier sections.

Backyard crops - nearly all are fruit trees - are put on the Season Planner before the start of the season (see the Backyard harvest signup section of this manual). Other backyard crops are added to the Season Planner as they are registered if a preliminary scouting by the database manager shows that is the best plan. After Ripe harvest leaders sign up to lead and Green ones to co-lead, and as the ripe date approaches, the leader contacts the owner to verify that they crop is to be harvested and to arrange scouting, if necessary, and a harvest. Based on the first phone contact, some small crops may not need to be scouted at all. Some backyard crops need to be checked on several times before they are ripe as many owners are not good judges of this. It is better that fruit be a little under-ripe than over-ripe.

Backyard crops vary a lot from year to year. Some are productive about every other year. Sometimes owners register crops that are not worth picking due to pests or over-ripeness. Harvest leaders must be prepared to politely but firmly decline to harvest these crops. Salem Harvest's reputation with agencies and the community depends in part on our quality control. Some backyard crops have been harvested every year for many years and there is reliable information in the database to guide the leader.

Backyard harvest rosters are often filled by leader trainees and so may or may not be posted publicly. Harvest leaders may solicit other leaders or volunteers for the harvest. Anyone with a logon to the database may see the scheduled harvest and contact the leader if they want to be included.

If ladders or picking buckets are needed, the backyard harvest coordinator will know where to get them. Usually a short paperwork packet is all that is needed. The essential pieces are the Entry Authorization Form (if it has not been obtained), the roster and the Donation Form.

Work with the backyard harvest coordinator to locate boxes to pick into. Boxes may be found at the Salem Harvest storage container, other leader’s homes or at local area markets. For firm fruits like apples and pears, plastic bags can be used to transport and deliver the produce. Because many of these harvests are after-hours or on the weekend, produce may be delivered to food pantries such as the Union Gospel Mission or the Salvation Army Lighthouse Shelter.

At backyard harvests, the leader must bring supplies for hand washing. This may be as simple as a gallon jug of water, some liquid hand soap and a roll of paper towels. About a pint of water per person is enough.

Forms are returned to the database manager as with farm harvests. A record of paperwork received by the database manager can be found   [] here . Ripe harvest leaders have database access that lets them update crop information and the harvest summary so that next year's leader has more information to use.

  Harvest: finishing

Toward the end of the harvest, enlist harvest assistants to help with clean-up activities. Scan the property and ask all volunteers to finish harvesting and make their way to the check-out area. Invite them to write a thank-you note to the property owner on their way out, if available. There are occasions when a harvest leader may extend the length of a harvest if there is more to pick and the capability to transport it. Experience has shown that many pickers will have left at the planned time and the amount of extra produce gathered may be marginal. The harvest leader can make this decision, though. 

Assist with the dividing of produce and loading of boxes onto pallets or into the truck, the collection of signs, loading of ladders and the packing of the harvest tote.

The sheet headed 'Donated through Salem Harvest' goes to the Marion Polk Food Share (or other agency that received the food). It is their record that the food came through Salem Harvest and gives them the correct spelling and address of the crop owner. At large harvests this usually means giving the sheet to the truck driver to be filled out with the weight at the food share.

The rosters and any Temporary Volunteer Registration and Release from Liability forms go to the database manager for entry into the database. This can be in person, by mail, or scanned and sent by email.

Completion of paperwork is tracked on [] this page . You can refer to it to verify that your paperwork has been received and logged.

The most common error on rosters is that leaders and assistants are not checked off. If the person entering attendance in the computer was not at the harvest, this could mean many people being incorrectly marked as "absent." When filling out the paperwork after a harvest, leaders should make a habit of looking at each line of the roster and correcting such errors.

When everyone has left and the harvest leader is the last to leave, let the property owner know that you are done and ready to leave. Thank the property owner for their generous donation. Owners are sent a donation receipt by mail within a few weeks of the harvest or at the end of the season for ongoing donors.

Return the supplies to the truck they arrived in and let the harvest director know if any supplies are running low.

Email the harvest director with any questions or concerns and if there were any outstanding harvest assistants.

When a backyard harvest has been completed and the weight has been entered in the database, a new link appears on the [] Season Planner details section about the harvest. This link goes to a pre-formatted email that is sent to the crop owner. It includes the weight and also invites the owner to fill out a brief online survey. It can also be edited by the harvest leader before being sent. Harvest leaders receive the response directly. Harvest Leaders should check the Season Planner to see when the link is there and then send the email. The link is no longer visible after an email has been sent once.

The harvest leader:
Can extend the length of a harvest if there are good reasons to.

The Post Harvest Summary:
Has information that may be useful to future harvest leaders at that site.

Paperwork to deliver to the Database Manager includes:
Rosters and Temporary Volunteer Registration and Release from Liability forms.

The Season Planner link that sends an email to the crop owner:
Disappears after the email has been sent.

The 'Donated through Salem Harvest' page in the harvest paperwork packet:
Is given to the Marion Polk Food Share receiving clerk or left on the receiving desk if it is after-hours.

  Database: tables

Certified ('Ripe') harvest leaders are able to use the web site’s database to access information that may be useful for preparing for and leading harvests. They are able to view and change information that is there. Trainee ('Green') harvest leaders can access only pages that show information, not those where it can be changed. Salem Harvest and its volunteers depend heavily on the completeness and accuracy of the information in the database, so changes should be made very carefully. Remember that many people are relying on it. If for instance, a harvest time is incorrect dozens of people may arrive when there is no harvest. Harvest leaders do not need to know how the database pages work in any technical detail, but they must be comfortable and familiar with how to find and update information.

This section of the manual describes the database and how to find and change information in it. The pages that harvest leaders can see are not public and the information on them is confidential. It should be used only for official Salem Harvest business. The pages are protected by passwords. Approved harvest leaders have a username and password. The username is the initial of the first name plus the last name, all in lower case letters. So Susan Smith’s username is ssmith and John Volunteer’s username is jvolunteer. Passwords are assigned and can be changed only by the database manager. Please let him know if you think someone has accessed your password and it will be changed.

When you first try to look at a password protected page, you will be shown a login page. Enter your username and password. If at any time you click on a link to a page that your access level does not allow, you will again see the login page. If this happens, simply use the back button on your browser to return to the previous page that you did have access to.

Database tables

The database is just a collection of lists called ‘database tables.’ Various web pages pull information from the lists and combine it. Harvest leaders do not need to know in detail how these work but a general familiarity can be helpful. The main tables are:

Crops: A list of all the crops that have been registered. Each line in the table has the owner’s name and contact information, the address, type of crop, etc.

Volunteers: A list of all the people who have registered as volunteers. This includes information such as: name and contact information, interest in leading or assisting, computer IP address, ladder safety test score, etc.

Harvests: A list of all the harvest sessions. Information includes, among other things, the particular crop to be harvested (this is a number that refers to the Crop list), the harvest date and time, harvest leaders (these are numbers that refer to the People list), how many volunteers are to be on the roster, the weight of the produce that was picked, and information to be displayed when the harvest is posted.

Rosters: This is a list of all the roster slots for all harvests. Some of the information in this list refers back to the Volunteers and Harvests tables: the harvest number, the volunteer number, volunteer name, attendance at that harvest, and computer IP address.

There are other tables in the database but these are the ones with information that harvest leaders may need.

Ripe harvest leaders:
Have a responsibility to change information carefully.

All harvest leaders can:
View information about schedules, crops, harvests, rosters and volunteers.

The Harvests table:
Contains the weight of produce that was donated.

Deleting database records:
Can be done only by the database manager.

  Database: web pages

The Pages Index has a list of most database pages and is the best place to start. It is found [] here . From there you can click on links to find the pages that you need. Many of the pages have a Help file associated with them that describes the page and how to use it. When there is a Help file available, you will see "HELP FILE" at the far right of the third line of the navigation bar. Clicking on that link opens the Help file. The main pages are in the middle and bottom lines of the navigation bar at the top of the page where it says "VIEW LINKS" and "CHANGE LINKS." Not all of these pages are accessible by harvest leaders. The first three of them show just the tables that were already described in the previous section:

Crops, Volunteers, Harvests

Email Addresses: You can quickly get lists of names and emails from harvest rosters. This is most useful when you want to contact everyone who has checked off the box that says they can assist at the harvest, for instance, if you want someone to come early to help set up.

Picker Finder: Typing in the first letters of a person’s last name will produce a list of volunteers that match. You can then click on the volunteers’ names to get their registration information such as email address or phone number.

Season Planner: This page lists all of the harvests in order of harvest date. It has contact information for the crop owner, harvest leaders and coordinator. There are links to the detailed information about the crop and the harvest.

Clicking on the “Harvest Info” link in the Season Planner, or the “Harvest Details” in the Harvest List, goes to:

Harvest Information and Roster page that has all of the information about that harvest including the crop information and complete roster. The roster has links for each person that shows their harvest history.

The Harvest Information and Roster page has a box that has links to several versions of information packets to take to the harvest that include rosters, lists of assistants, etc.

There are links that will allow you to sign up for a harvest even if it is already full. It can sometimes be necessary for harvest leaders to add people to the roster by sending them a link. These are special cases, such as when the harvest leader has forgotten to sign up or wants to add a particular assistant.

eMailer: This is used to send emails to people listed in the database. Its advantage over your usual email program is that it draws lists directly from the database. It is most commonly used to quickly select volunteers who have signed up tp to assist at a harvest so that assignments can be sent to them before the harvest.

Documents: This page includes downloadable information and forms for planning and managing harvests. Although the page is accessible to the public, some of the files show on the page only if the viewer is signed in on the database. This is to prevent unauthorized people from downloading some files. All files are pdf format.

The page that has direct links to most other pages is named:
Pages Index.

All users should:
Thoroughly explore every page on the website so they can learn where to find information.

This manual:
Lists only a few of the important pages.

Help files can be found:
At the far right of the third line of the the navigation bar.

  Database: harvest leader signup

[] Harvest Leader Signup is the central page for information for harvest leaders. It has links to resources and a table of harvests that are available for harvest leaders to sign up for. It lists smaller harvests for harvest leaders and co-leaders to sign up to lead. Large harvests are not usually on this list and are assigned by the Harvest Director.

Crops are placed on this list at the beginning of the season from the registered crops list. Some have been picked before and some have not. In most cases, the harvest leader who signs up for the crop is making the first contact with the crop owner that year. The first questions, then, are whether the crop is available that year and if the owner wants the crop harvested. This is followed by arranging for scouting.

After leaders have signed up to lead a harvest on this page, the harvest may be removed from the list so that the ones still needing leaders can be seen easily without having to scroll through a lot of harvests that already have leaders. The harvests you sign up to lead can still be found on the Harvests page, the Season Planner list view, and the 'My upcoming harvests' link on this page.

To see more details about a crop, click on the link in the Crop & owner column. To volunteer to be the harvest leader, simply type your first and last names in the Leader column and click on 'Sign up to lead.' You must be a certified harvest leader to lead. To sign up to co-lead the harvest, put your first and last names in that column. You must be a trainee leader or a certified leader to co-lead.

You will receive an email with all the details about the crop and the harvest. The date that is shown may be an actual scheduled date that has already been arranged OR an estimate based on previous harvests OR the ripe date which was given by the crop owner. Crop readiness can vary by several weeks from year-to-year and this should be kept in mind when signing up to lead. It is far better to contact the owner a little early than too late.

The top table has links to primary information resources. The main table has the following columns:

Date: This date may come from any of three sources depending on the stage of planning. If the harvest date has been decided with the owner then that is displayed. If the actual harvest date has not been set then the date shown is only an estimate. First, if there has been a previous harvest of the crop, that date is shown. If there has been no previous harvest, the date shown is the date that the owner gave as the ripe date.

Date based on: This can be the actual harvest date, previous harvest date, or the ripe date.

Crop & owner: The type of produce and the crop owner's last name.

Crop size: How many plants, trees, acres, etc. If no units are shown it is the number of plants.

Area: The general location of the crop

Other Info:Additional information about the crop. This may be the post-harvest summary from a previous harvest, or the announcement information from the harvest list page.

Trainee or co-leader: The name of the harvest co-leader or trainee leader. If a co-leader or trainee has not been assigned, then there is a space to sign up.

Leader: The harvest leader. If a leader has not been assigned, then there is a space to sign up to lead this harvest.

The drop-down list labeled '-- select leader --' can be used to select a particular leader or trainee and then clicking the button will go to a page listing the harvests, with details, for just that person.

Ripe harvest leaders:
Can sign up for any harvests that are listed.

Dates in the list are based on which of these: 1) Ripeness date, 2) Previous harvest date, 3) Actual scheduled date.
All of them.

If a crop has not been harvested before, the date is based on:
When it is expected to be ripe.

The first thing to do after signing up to lead a harvest is:
Make a preliminary contact with the crop owner to remind them that they are on our list and to confirm that they want to have the crop harvested.

  Database: formulas

Harvest planning involves juggling numbers to figure out how much produce there is to pick, how many pickers are needed and what you need to transport what has been picked. While a lot of harvest planning is making educated guesses, some of it is simply calculations. Estimate what you have to estimate, but always count whatever you can actually count, measure whatever you can measure, and then calculate using those measurements and estimates. Adjust the results to allow a cushion.

Here are some formulas that you can refer to when planning harvests. Some of these conversions can be done automatically in the [] Calculator page on the website. Other conversions and historical data about harvests, pounds per picker, etc can be found in this report on the [">Reports page .

Banana boxes and clamshells and totes

1 full pallet = 36 banana boxes (6 rows of 6 boxes)
1 case of clamshells = 184 clamshells
1 banana box holds 9 filled clamshells.
1 banana box with 9 filled clamshells weighs about 25 pounds total
1 banana box with apples, plums, squash, etc. weighs about 35-40 pounds total

1 empty banana box weighs 3 pounds
1 empty regular pallet weighs 40 pounds
1 empty 'blue' pallet weighs 65 pounds
1 pound of blueberries has about 280 blueberries
1 clamshell weighs too little to make a difference worth calculating
The outside of a banana box measures 20" by 16" by 10" and has an inside volume of 1.5 cubic feet.

1 cardboard half-tote weighs 27 pounds
1 cardboard half-tote measures (inside) 45" by 38" by 21"
1 cardboard half-tote holds 20-22 clamshells on each layer and a maximum of 6 layers (best with a layer of cardboard after 2 or 3 layers to spread the weight evenly)

Sample pounds per picker (but see the Reports Generator for complete lists)

1 picker at a large blueberry harvest with good bushes picks about 20-25 pounds total
1 picker at a large cherry harvest with good trees picks about 20-25 pounds total
1 picker at a large apple harvest with good trees picks about 180 pounds total

Cars and parking

100 yards of parallel parking holds 15 cars
100 yards of head-in parking holds 30 cars
Parking spaces are 10 feet wide
Parking spaces are 20 long
Parallel rows of head-in parked cars must 25 feet apart
1 car averages 1.5 adult pickers (a very rough figure)

Attendance at all crops averages 75%

Trucks, pallets and totes

A large MPFS truck can hold 8 pallets and about 8,000 pounds
A small MPFS truck can hold 4 pallets
Banana boxes stack 6 to a layer on a pallet
Empty banana boxes stack 6 or 7 layers high on a pallet (36-42 boxes)
Full banana boxes stack 6 layers high at the most and need to be tied or wrapped if higher than 5 layers
A large folding plastic tote (40 x 44 x 36) can hold 800 pounds (very roughly) of heavy produce like squash
A large solid plastic tote holds 300 pounds of broccoli
A large solid plastic tote holds 400 pounds of green beans
A cardboard melon tote can hold 600 pounds (very roughly) of heavy produce like squash

A Subaru Forester can hold 12 banana boxes
A pickup truck can hold 24 banana boxes if two layers deep and possibly 36 if the load is restrained

Open-top banana boxes measure 24 by 16 by 9 inches.

How many pounds of strawberries are in a six high regular pallet, in clamshells, in banana boxes?
792 pounds

How much does the whole pallet weigh?
940 pounds

If strawberries were blueberries, how many blueberries would be on the pallet in question1?

If a large plastic tote were filled with blueberries, what would you have all together?
Juice and pulp

  Database: Reports Generator

The [] Reports Generator page is linked from the [] Pages Index . It is a specialized, rather technical page that draws information directly from the database tables then sorts, filters and combines it to produce lists and statistics. See the Page Help there for a complete description.

There is a library of pre-written report requests. Clicking on any of these loads that report request, then clicking on 'Show this report' produces the list or table.

There is one report that is especially useful for harvest planning. It shows the history of how many pounds-per-picker were obtained for particular crops. This can be used to estimate how much a harvest will produce. That report is [">Donated pounds per picker and attendance for a particular Farm or BY crop type and is in the Harvest Stats section of the Reports Library. Simply select the type of crop and Backyard or Farm from the dropdown menus and click on 'Show this report.'

You will see a table of all such harvests with a column for pounds-per-picker ordered from the most to the least.

Have you bookmarked the Reports Generator Page?
Of course!

Have you read the Page Help for the Reports Generator page?
Of course!

  Banana boxes

Many harvests use banana boxes provided by Marion Polk Food Share. They are a handy size for picking into, carrying, stacking, delivering to the food bank, and eventually distributing to food agencies. For large harvests, there is far less labor involved compared to dumping bucket loads into large totes that then have to be divided at MPFS into smaller containers for distribution. The fruit is also is damaged less and there is less handling and transferring.

However, a lot of time can be wasted in repacking if banana boxes are not used properly. Volunteers may need to be instructed in how to use banana boxes at orientation.

For small harvests, harvest leaders can get banana boxes at Marion Polk Food Share. Just go to the receiving desk inside the warehouse area and say that you are planning a harvest for Salem Harvest. They will be happy to provide you with what you need.

Banana boxes have two parts: a top and a bottom:

lighter cardboardheavier cardboard
writing and logoslittle writing
larger holesmaller hole
fits over the outside of the bottomfits inside the top

Always pair a top and a bottom. Never try to force a top over a top or a bottom over a bottom. Do not take mismatched boxes into the field or orchard. Set them aside at the truck.

The bottom has a hole in it that must be covered or the fruit can fall out. Always check that the hole is covered with stiff paper or cardboard. Do not use thin plastic wrap to cover the hole.

A common mistake made by volunteers is to overfill boxes. Boxes should be filled so that nothing sticks up above the top edge of the bottom part. Boxes must be stacked when loaded into the truck and if they are over-filled then the top is rounded and the boxes will not stack correctly and can crush the fruit.

Separate the top and bottom before filling the bottom. If the bottom is nested inside an upside down top, you will not be able to pull it out to get the top on [see photo].

Some crops, like cherries, should fill boxes only to the bottom of the hand holes. This prevents the cherries from falling out the side and also lessens the risk of them being crushed in the box. Use plastic liners with cherries if possible. These can be made from splitting open plastic trash bags, but are not a substitute for paper or cardboard covering the bottom hole.

Stacking: Banana boxes fit 6 to a layer on a pallet. It is important to align the first layer carefully. Most crops can be stacked in banana boxes five rows high. Some lighter crops, such as broccoli, can be stacked higher but the stack should be tied together or wrapped. If boxes are damp they collapse more easily and five rows high can be too much.

The outside of a banana box measures 10 inches high by 16 inches wide by 20 inches long. It has a volume of 1.5 cubic feet.

A banana box of apples or similarly sized fruit weighs about 35-40 pounds. A box of broccoli weighs about 25 pounds.

Banana boxes are useful because:
They save time and cause less damage than large totes.

You can tell a top from a bottom because:
The top has a bigger hole in it.

A stack of boxes of apples on a pallet, five rows high weighs about:
1200 pounds.

Extra credit: What brand of banana box has tops that may not fit over other brands' bottoms?

Boxes of cherries should be filled:
No higher than the hand holes.

  Ladder safety

Most of our orchard ladders are stored and transported on a trailer, although a few are often kept separate for backyard harvests. The Harvest Director will normally arrange for the ladders to be delivered when they are needed. Pickers who take the online ladder safety test have their score saved in the database and it is included in harvest roster paperwork packets. Those that have scored 85 or higher can check out a ladder at harvests ahead of those that have not passed the online test. Those who have not passed the test may check out a ladder after listening to a ladder safety demonstration at the harvest. At some harvests where there is risk of ladders not being returned (usually if there are large distances involved and pickers might leave them for us to retrieve) we hand out ladders in exchange for a drivers license.

Ladder Safety Information

Orchard ladders can be a big help for picking fruit quickly and safely if they are used correctly. We hope the ladders we have for volunteers will last for many years of safe use. This primer has the information that will help everyone pick safely and take good care of the ladders. While it is often helpful for two people to work together setting up and moving a ladder, it can be done by one person. Most of this primer is for a single person using a ladder.

The ladders

Our ladders are eight and twelve-foot, aluminum, tripod orchard ladders. Orchard ladders have three supports on the ground: the two feet at the rungs plus the pole. Three supports are more stable than four. The pole is connected to the rungs by a hinge at the top and can be moved toward or away from the rungs. It does not move from side to side. Forcing the pole to one side or the other can bend the pole or damage the hinge.

Moving the ladder

For longer distances it is easiest to carry the ladder in a horizontal position with the top end toward the front, whether by one or two people. If just one person, lift the ladder so that it is balanced. Because the ladder is heavier at the bottom and lighter at the top, the balance point will be a little closer to the bottom.

There is a notch attached to the rungs that the pole fits into when it is closed (see photo at left). When carrying the ladder it is very important that the pole be held securely in the notch. One of the easiest ways to damage the hinge is to let the pole suddenly slip out of the notch. When that happens, all of the weight of the ladder can twist the hinge sideways. To prevent this from happening, carry the ladder with the pole next to your body. You can grasp the pole from the outside and this will prevent damage to the hinge.

The ladders are longer than the ones that most people are used to. Be careful of other people and trees near you when you turn.

Setting up the ladder

Raise the ladder to a vertical position. Swing the pole out away from the rungs. Always use the pole to support the ladder; never lean it against a tree.

The pole should be halfway between the two feet and not pushed to one side.

The pole must be set at the right distance from the rungs. If it is too close to the rungs, the steps will be very steep and it is easy to fall over backwards when you are on the ladder. If the pole is too far away from the rungs, the ladder is weaker and the pole can skid out.

If you stand at the feet facing the rungs and hold your arms out straight toward the ladder, they will just touch the rungs if the pole is set at the right distance.

When the ladder is placed, be sure that the pole and rungs are set firmly into the ground so they will not slide. On a hard surface like pavement, you may need another person to hold the pole and brace it with their foot if it is likely to slide.

Turning the ladder

You will need to move and turn the ladder often. This is much safer than reaching too far. To turn the ladder, stand under it and lift the feet and the pole completely off the ground. Never try to turn the ladder by lifting only the pole and pushing it to one side. This can bend the pole or damage the hinge.

You can also turn the ladder by closing the pole into its notch and then lifting and turning. Always be sure that the pole does not swing free.

Climbing the ladder

There should never be more than one person on a ladder. It is too much weight for the ladder and the person below may have something dropped on them.

Set your feet carefully on the rungs. Although they have small holes in them for better traction, they can still be slippery if they are wet or muddy. Always keep two feet on the rungs. It is risky to lean out and stand on one foot.

The third rung from the top is the highest that it is safe to stand on. When you are on this rung, the top of the ladder will be between your knees and your waist.

You can reach to the side to pick fruit, but leaning too far risks falling. The general rule is to keep your belt buckle no farther out than the side rails of the ladder. The picker in the last photo is leaning out too far. Also, the higher you are on the ladder, the less you can lean out safely. In any situation where you are unsure about how far is safe to lean, play it safe.

Picking fruit from a ladder is safest if you do not have to use one hand to hold a bucket. Possibilities are: using a bucket that straps on, attaching a bucket to a rung of the ladder, or dropping or handing fruit to another person.

General points

The ladders are held together with rivets and bolts. If you notice any looseness in the rungs or hinge, or any other problem with a ladder such as sharp edges, tell the harvest leader right away. Always return ladders to the ladder trailer. For some harvests you will be asked to leave your driver's license or other identification when checking out a ladder.

The online Ladder Safety Test is at:

Pickers must listen to a ladder safety demonstration:
If they have not passed the online ladder safety test.

  ATV Policy and Procedures

When offloading/loading ATV on trailer, be sure trailer hitch is securely latched to tow vehicle.

Equipment Inspection. Check these items and correct if necessary

With ATV engine off:
1. Is the oil level okay? Check on level ground.
2. Is tire pressure okay on all 4 tires? Adequate tread? Nuts & hardware tight?
3. Does parking brake set and hold properly?
4. Inspect brake cables and engine lines for wear, tear, & tightness
5. Clean?: footboards, pegs, engine.
6. Check all lights
7. Towball, Ballmount secure?
1. Is tire pressure okay on both tires? Adequate tread? Nuts & hardware tight?
2. Securely latched to ATV towball with safety pin in place?
3. Deck boards sound, secured? Clean enough to offer good traction for volunteers?
4. Gate in locked position?
5. Hanging wires, foreign objects hanging from? Fasten or tighten,
6. Load pallets or totes slightly forward of axle.
ATV check with running:
1. On level ground, go forward slowly. Try brakes. You should have smooth stop with no grabbing or pulling to one side.
2. Bounce up and down on the suspension and make sure it is working properly.
Operating the ATV General Operation:
1. Operator must be 18 years or older with valid driver's license and Oregon ATV Safety Education Card,
2. Never carry passengers on ATV,
3. Up to 2 passengers may ride in trailer. Must be 16 years or older, must be seated on deck, drive less than 10mph,
4. Be sure load is stable,
5. Avoid parking facing up or downhill. If necessary, put in reverse as well as using parking brake. Always try to park cross-slope if possible,
6. Wear protective clothing and footwear with good traction on footboards. Wear protective eyewear in all orchards and other properties with eye-level dangers,
7. Keep ATV and trailer tires away from ruts,
8. Do not overload ATV or trailer, see manufacturer specs,
9. When moving check for volunteers nearby, assume they have not noticed you're there. Beep or call-out every time you start movement. Children w/o parents should be 10 ft away from ATV and trailer,
10. At all times think about your safety and that of people around ATV and trailer. We can replace the equipment but we can't replace you!
Going uphill:
1. Redistribute the load so more weight is on the front of the ATV,
2. Slide forward on the seat, and lean forward and down,
3. Slow down.
Going downhill:
1. Redistribute the load so more weight is on the back of ATV,
2. Slide back on the seat and try not to lean forward,
3. Slow down.
Going across slopes:
1. Always lean uphill when crossing slopes,
2. Watch out for ruts that can trap your downhill tire and cause a rollover,
3. Reduce your speed and stay aware of uneven ground,
4. If you're on a slope and feel ATV starting to roll over: Try to turn the wheels more to the downhill, if the terrain makes this possible. If you can't, carefully get off ATV on uphill side,
5. No passengers in trailer going across slopes.
Unloading tote:
1. Set rear jacks,
2. Be sure 2x4s are under truck gate to allow ramp to slide easily on ground,
3. All personnel must be 6ft away (children 10') from lowering tailgate except operator.
Accident/Damage Reporting:

If you have an accident or damage occur, report to Harvest Director. ATV must be inspected by shop staff, sometimes dangerous damage is hidden and can be missed at first glance.

  Truck Safety

Truck Safety Policy when at harvest site.
1. Once onsite, don't move truck without a spotter from :30min before harvest till :30 after.
2. Honk horn every time truck is starting to move.
3. Spotter is the only person within 25' of moving truck. Unsupervised children must be at least 50' away. If necessary, distances can be reduced if a physical barrier exists between truck and bystanders.
4. Move truck as few times as possible.
Moving Onsite with Spotter

For the Driver:

Never move truck unless the spotter is in view. When the spotter needs to leave the "highvisibility" left side of the truck to determine whether the other side of the truck is clear, the STOP signal must be given. If at anytime hand signals or additional directions are misunderstand, stop the truck, put transmission in Park, and driver & spotter discuss. (See Spotter Commands on the last page.)
• Assume that other vehicles, adults, children do not see you coming. Additionally, make sure no unsupervised children are within 50' of the truck while moving, all other persons except spotter 25' away,
• Confirm 'ready to go' with thumbs-up to and from spotter. Never move truck without spotter being in sight at all times and spotter's 'ready to go' thumbs-up
• If you lose sight of spotter, STOP and reaffirm contact with mutual thumbs-up. If spotter doesn't come back into sight, put transmission into Park and honk horn thrice to call spotter to you.
• Sound horn when starting to move, even after a short pause,
• Move slowly and cautiously. Never back a vehicle when any mirror is covered with dirt, frost, snow, or anything else. Have windows open to hear communications,
• If rider is on tailgate while truck is moving, driver must limit forward speed to 10mph and reverse speed to 5mph.

For the Spotter:

Always remain in the field of vision of driver and/or left side mirror. If you need to leave the "high-visibility" left side of the truck, give the driver the STOP signal first.
• Assume that other vehicles, adults, children do not see truck coming. Additionally, make sure no unsupervised children are within 50' of the truck while moving, all other persons except spotter 25' away,
• Discuss with driver where the truck is destined and its best route. Discuss hand signals (see below) any special needs, signals with driver before vehicle moves. Discuss blindspots, obstacles, hazards.
• Conduct a walk around vehicle to identify possible hazards, nearby children, bystanders, obstacles around and UNDER truck. Look UP for powerlines, look DOWN for irrigation, among other hazards, obstacles.
• Confirm 'ready to go' with thumbs-up to and from driver,
• Before you give 'ready to go' thumbs-up signal to driver, establish the route you will walk and determine obstacles, trip hazards and escape routes. Visualize the path the truck will take before you direct driver to move, making sure it's clear of hazards, people, and obstacles.
• Place yourself on the driver's side of vehicle. Never get within 8-10' of vehicle, farther if truck is backing-up with wheels are turned towards you. When going forward never stand/walk in front of truck, always on driver's side.
• Give clear, understandable, consistent hand signals (see below).
• Do not leave driver's view without first stopping the vehicle.
• Stop the driver if any hazards are observed or if you are uncertain of the direction that the driver is maneuvering.
Truck Tailgate:
• Tailgate staff should not wear loose clothing and should tie up hair.
• Before raising or lowering, Tailgate operator does visual inspection of all pinch, crush points and doesn't lower without spotter confirming “clear” underneath platform. If no spotter available, operator must visually inspect under tailgate and make sure all children are at least 25' away
• If operator has a helper, at beginning of shift identify to them pinch and crush points and where to be positioned during movement.
• No more than 2 persons on tailgate while raising, lowering. Non-operator not allowed to sit on bed while liftgate moving. Keep hands and body clear of pinch, crush points.
• No boarding, un-boarding truck while truck or tailgate is moving.
• Put pallet jack into 'park' when truck or tailgate is moving
• Pull pallet jack into truck, do not stand on edge of liftgate and push. If pallet jack gets stuck, try to move it with as few people as possible under the direction of most senior volunteer giving precise directions over-force can lead to person being crushed between heavy load and truck body)

  Truck Spotter Commands


Pull hand across neck.

Move hands back and forth slightly

Point where the truck should go; move the other hand COME TO ME.

Slowly close the hands until the truck is in the desired position. End with STOP TRUCK

Move flat hands up and down about six inches.

If you video yourself performing the complete repertoire of Spotter Commands, please send us a copy!
Most credit if uploaded to YouTube.

  Produce notes

This section will gradually accumulate specific information about various crops that may be important to know when scouting a crop. Sometimes this information will be useful to include in harvest orientation. The information here is in no way complete and we hope to add to it as time goes by. Please send us any such tips that you know or discover.


With all fruit, it is better to pick it a little early rather than a little late. Remember that there is a lot of handling along the chain from us to the person who eats it: picking, loading, unloading, sorting and repacking, compiling orders, more loading and unloading, unpacking. This all happens quickly in most cases, but fully ripe fruit is more likely to be damaged then less ripe fruit.


Backyard apple trees in this area are frequently infested with worms from the apple coddling moth if they are not sprayed. We cannot donate fruit that we know has worms. The worms leave only a small black hole in the skin that can be hard to distinguish from the normal blemishes that are common on unsprayed apples. Any time that you are scouting apple trees check closely for these including cutting apples open to look inside. If a significant proportion have worms then the crop should not be picked.

Some varieties have few worms. A very general observation is that the earlier the type of apple ripens, the less chance of worms. Yellow Transparent and Gravenstein have few if any.

Checking apples for ripeness is best done by cutting them open and looking at the seeds. If the seeds are white or light-colored, the apple is not ripe.


The ripeness of pears can be hard to judge. They are picked when they are still quite hard and then are best ripened by first chilling them for days or even weeks and then leaving them out at room temperature. If picked too early they will not ripen. Too late and they suffer greatly from all the handling. One test for ripeness is to pivot the pear up from where it hangs. It it snaps off where the stem connects to the branch when it is at a right angle (90 degrees) to the branch, then it is ripe. If it has to be lifted farther it is not ripe. This is a useful but not perfect rule.


Despite several year of trying to wipe out the rumor, we still have to tell volunteers that it is not necessary to have stems on cherries that we pick. In fact, sometimes damage can be done to trees and next year’s fruit when trying to pick cherries with stems on.


It is fine to donate squash that has touched the ground (someone once forgot to take the standard line for fruit out of the harvest orientation template and we want to prevent any "cherry stem" myths, however implausible.)

Squash all feels like it can take less than gentle handling but some varieties, such as yellow zucchini, bruise more easily than one might think. Also, with all squash varieties, the fruit will store longer if the stem is left on.

I prefer:

Worms in apples just add a bit of healthy protein.
True, but we still cannot donate them.

  Misc: tough decisions

The decision at the back end of crops’ ripe period is often the hardest. If we pick a crop a little early it's no big deal. Consider that if you opened a pack of cherries and found a few too unripe, you would eat the rest and maybe see if the others ripened. But if you opened a pack of cherries and found a few that were rotten you would toss the whole pack. Green doesn't spread; rotten does. And once they get to MPFS - especially if we have pre-packaged them, if they are too far gone it's a real mess. They do not have resources to pick over them, and there is no easy way to even dump them. It would damage our credibility and, if they send out the fruit, theirs as well.

Our standard line to pickers at orientation is "Don't donate anything that you would not take home yourself." That's usually a useful and easily remembered rule, and we use it to try to make sure quality is high enough. But sometimes it's not strict enough because:

• Some of our pickers may have lower standards for what they would take home than for what we would donate.
• Pickers may take home marginal fruit and sort it better there, but we and MPFS cannot do that.
• At large harvests it is inevitable that some pickers are not very skilled and will pick inefficiently and with erratic quality control. And they don't listen to orientation as closely as they should. If we send them into a crop that is too late, we will inevitably receive unacceptable produce at the donation station.

In the tough cases we have to have the strictest standard at the truck. It could happen that we decide at a harvest to just tell everyone, “Take all the fruit yourself, nothing is going back on the truck.”

Here are options that in some circumstances would be the BEST thing to do. Every harvest leader should know that these are possible, that they have the authority to make the decision, and it might sometimes be best to:

1. Just say "no" to the owner when a crop is scouted. This happens a lot with backyards because the quality and quantity are so variable and the owners not so knowledgeable. Of course, it's harder to tell a farmer that, but it can be necessary.

2. Call off the harvest completely even if it is late. That would mean sending an eMailer note to all who are signed up, having an alert posted on the web page, and having one person at the site to turn away people who do not get the message. Those might be much better steps to take than to carry through with the full logistics and hope for the best.

3. Assign all possible helpers to sort fruit at the truck even if it slows everything down a lot. That could cut way down on how much gets on the truck, but it could be better than letting bad produce onto the truck.

4. Draw the line at the truck and let pickers take everything home.

Harvest leaders:
Both of the above

  Misc: assigning areas

Limiting pickers to a part of the crop – advantages and disadvantages

The practice of assigning pickers to rows or other restricted areas of a crop can be a useful one. However, it is an unusual practice and should be done only for good reasons and after weighing the advantages and disadvantages.

Possible reasons to restrict pickers to areas:
  • It is known that there will be multiple sessions of a harvest and we want each session to have good picking.
  • It is known that there will be multiple sessions of a harvest and the check-in and donation areas will be in different places for each session.
  • There is far more in the field than we will be able to pick and limiting the area will mean less hauling while everyone still has plenty to pick.
  • We know of a part of the crop that has the best quality or quantity of produce.
Disadvantages of restricting pickers to areas:
  • They may pick the area clean before the end of the session resulting in less produce being picked and picker frustration.
  • If pickers are individually limited, for instance to specific rows, there can be an unfair disparity in how much each picker finds to pick.
  • Assigning pickers to rows takes time and assistants and slows the harvest.
  • It feels more regimented to volunteers, especially if the reasons are not apparent.

  Misc: Terms of Participation

All volunteers check off the Terms of Participation when they first register and also each time that they sign up for a harvest. The Terms of Participation are the basic agreement between Salem Harvest and the volunteers. Harvest leaders supervise volunteers at harvests, so an essential task is to monitor how volunteers follow the terms and to intervene when necessary. Most of the terms are obvious and self-explanatory. It can be useful for harvest leaders to be familiar with other details about them or the background that led to them. This section contains the Terms of Participation as bullet points in italics, with additional information.

By registering as a volunteer with Salem Harvest and attending events that we sponsor, you are agreeing to the following terms of participation:

  • The mission of Salem Harvest is to feed the hungry by harvesting food that would go to waste. Consistent with this mission, harvested produce which I take home will go to children or homeless, unemployed, elderly or low-income individuals (see [" target="_blank">ORS 315.154(3) ) I will conduct myself in a manner consistent with that mission while attending Salem Harvest sponsored events.

Some of the terms are specific and some are more general. This one allows harvest leaders the leeway to make judgments about volunteers' conduct in unanticipated situations and intervene as necessary. This is best done after checking with the harvest director, co-leaders, other experienced leaders or board members if possible. The primary consideration for intervention is safety (reckless ladder use, for example). Most other issues can instead be reported and decided later (a volunteer taking more than a half share).

  • When I sign up for harvests, I will check off the boxes indicating that I have read and agree to the terms of the Release and Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement. I will not sign up other people for harvests.

One of crop owners' biggest concerns is about their liability in the event of accidents. There are several layers of protection in place that protect Salem Harvest and the crop owner. The key one is the liability waiver that is checked off when volunteers sign up for harvests. This is not a flexible rule. Anyone who arrives and is not on the roster must sign a paper copy of the waiver. Any time that harvest leaders hear of someone signing up someone else, they should take the opportunity to correct them by reminding of the Terms of Participation. It would also be reasonable to have them sign the paper form to emphasize the point, if you know someone else signed them up.

  • I will cancel my roster spot if, after signing up for a harvest, I find that I am unable to attend.

Canceling allows someone on the waiting list to be promoted. Some volunteers do not also understand that canceling a waiting list spot may also allow someone else to be promoted, and prevent them from being marked absent.

  • I will be punctual in arriving at harvests.
  • I will not enter any crop owners' property before or after harvests conducted by Salem Harvest.

This is another prime concern of crop owners. Large farms in rural areas have no fences and poaching can be problem for them.

  • I will not bring other adults to harvests who have not signed up and been added to the roster.

In almost all cases when this happens, we allow the other person to harvest after signing a waiver, but we also want to make clear that it is one of the terms and the reasons for it: 1) picker numbers are closely calculated, 2) scant resources are needed to handle check-in and later attendance entry of extras.

  • I will not smoke at harvests.
  • I will not bring alcohol to harvests.
  • I will not bring firearms to harvests.

These should require little explanation. There have been instances of each one in the past - even the one about firearms.

  • will not bring latex gloves to harvests.

These cause some people allergic reactions and Marion Polk Food Share requires us to include it.

  • I will not bring glass containers to harvests.

The original reason for this term was not connected to a Salem Harvest event. A truckload of produce was delivered to the cannery and a piece of broken glass was found in the load. The entire crop of many acres had to be rejected because of the risk that there was more glass. One incident of this at a Salem Harvest could be devastating. There are never exceptions to this rule.

  • I understand that harvests are conducted on private property that the owner has granted Salem Harvest permission to enter and harvest. I will conduct myself in a manner that is respectful of the owner's property at all times.
  • I will be respectful of other participants at harvests.
  • I will listen to, and follow the rules of, the orientation about the harvest given by the harvest leader.
  • I will follow all directions given to me by the harvest leader or designated assistants.
  • At least half of what I harvest will be donated by Salem Harvest to food agencies. When there are exceptions to this basic rule, they will explained at harvest orientation.
  • I will not sell or barter the portion of the harvest that I take home.

This has not happened as far as we know in connection with Salem Harvest. There is a history in the Willamette Valley of it happening with other gleaning groups. Farmers are especially sensitive to this issue as it is competition from the very people that they are donating food to.

  • I understand that Salem Harvest reserves the right to deny me entry to a harvest, or require me to leave a harvest, or remove me from the registration list if I do not follow these Terms of Participation.

These are all very significant steps that should be taken only after careful thought and consultation. It is extremely rare for them to be necessary. In nearly all cases, except for imminent danger, documenting and reporting to the Harvest Director is the best course.

  Misc: The Picking plan

Misc: The Picking plan

Volunteers may take home up to half of what they pick for their family’s use. There are several ways that harvests are organized for this: Free-form, Time Split, First Fill the Truck, and Container Quota. Which of these is used depends on several circumstances and is an essential part of the harvest plan. Which is selected must balance productivity, efficiency, volunteer satisfaction, and time and resource constraints. Each has advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed in planning a harvest.

The picking plan should never undermine the basic agreement that we have with volunteers: that they can take home up to half of what they pick. How the picking plan is chosen and carried out must always ensure that this is possible.

The picking plan must always be covered, with explanation of the reasons, on the Harvest page and at orientation so there is no confusion about it. Remember that some volunteers may have been to only harvests of one type and assume that is how it is always done. We do not want them to rely on the Terms of Agreement and then find out at the harvest that things are different. If the picking plan is unusual it should also be explained in the posted harvest info or the 'long info' in the signup email. 

Free-form - In a free-form harvest, volunteers decide for themselves how they want to manage their time as far as what they donate and what they take home. Some ways that they do this are: splitting their time, dividing produce at the donation station, or alternating containers. It is up to them to decide how to do it and is based on an honor system. This way is the most common type of picking plan.


  • It allows volunteers choice and responsibility.
  • Estimates of the amount available and the time needed are not as critical. Volunteers can see for themselves how much is available, where it is and how long it will take to pick and adjust how they pick accordingly.
  • Does not restrict them as much as other types of picking plans and requires less leader and assistant oversight.
  • It spreads out the rush of donations over a longer time.


  • More possibility of volunteers not making an even split of what they pick.
  • The produce may not be delivered as soon.
  • Volunteers efforts may be less focused and organized.

Time split - In a time-split harvest, the first portion of time (usually half) is designated for picking to donate and the second for picking to take home. For some crops, for instance blueberries, a half and half time split is reasonable. For others, for instance squash, volunteers may not need half of the full harvest to get all they want to take home and the time split may be different. But they should always be given sufficient time to get as much as they want up to half of what they pick.


  • The truck is loaded and the donation station can be taken down before the end of the harvest.
  • Perishable produce (strawberries, heat…) gets into the cooler sooner.
  • Allows turnaround time for the truck if there are back-to-back sessions.
  • Better insures an even split of how much volunteers donate.
  • Best for team-style harvesting where volunteers are organized and directly supervised.


  • If the split is not half and half, there is risk of volunteers not having enough time.
  • If produce is limited, the amount or quality or accessibility of what is left for them may be lower. This is a very bad outcome and should be avoided.
  • Volunteers with limited time may not have enough time left to pick for themselves.
  • Volunteers are more regimented and directed and limited in their options. This can adversely affect their experience of the harvest which is always an important consideration.

First fill the truck - This type has most of the same advantages and disadvantages of the Time Split type. There is added risk, however, if either the amount available to pick, or the time it takes to fill the truck are misjudged since volunteers may then have too little of either produce or time at the end. This type should be planned only when circumstances really require it and the produce amounts and time are well-known, and never just for convenience.

Container quota - Volunteers are given a set number of containers (clamshells, banana boxes) to fill. Instructions may vary from "Fill these first" to "Fill at least this many." (This is not the same as simply handing out the containers to use for donations in order to save extra handling. It is the quota aspect that makes it different. Orientation instructions should be very clear about this distinction.)

This is really a variation, depending on which of the above instructions is given, on the 'First Fill the Truck' and 'Time Split' types except that each picker is being assigned their portion of the truck or of the time spent picking. It shares the advantages and disadvantages of those plus a few more.


  • Because produce is not first put into volunteers' containers and then transferred to other ones, there is less handling, less damage, and less wasted motion.


  • Pickers vary a lot in how fast they pick and a standard quota cannot take this into account. Slower pickers will either not have as much time to pick for themselves or will leave empty containers in the field. Faster pickers may fill their quota and then keep more than they donate.
  • The estimate of where to set the quota may over or underestimate how much produce overall is available and how fast it can be picked with the results of getting less produce donated, too much for the truck or unhappy volunteers.
  • There is more chance of poorer quality in the donation containers if pickers rush to get those out of the way.
  • Because the containers are brought in already filled, quality control may not be as good.

Which of these is not one of standard types of picking plans:
More for us; less for you.

Which type results in less handling and transferring of the produce?
Container quota.

Which of these picking types is most likely to give an even split of produce donated and produce kept?
Time split.

A large field of cauliflower that has not been picked at all yet is a good candidate for which picking type?
First fill the truck.

  Planning scenarios 1

You scout a backyard apple tree that we have harvested in previous years and has produced 200, 300 and 400 pounds of apples total. The owner says that there seems to be about the same amount as before.

What containers do you need for the donated amount?
Apples are usually sturdy enough that you can put them in plastic trash bags. Keep to 20 pounds or less in each bag. You can also use banana boxes from MPFS. Apples pack about 40 pounds to a box, so you should get 6 boxes to be sure you have enough. If you will donate more than half, then adjust accordingly.

How many pickers would it take to pick the apples?

Question 2 explanation:
Pickers pick about 180 pounds of apples per person (that's found on the Database: formulas section).
If they donate half that makes 90 pounds donated each.
400 pounds total divided by 2 = 200 pounds donated.
200 pounds donated divided by 90 = 2+ pickers.
Actually, for this type of harvest either 2 or 3 is probably reasonable.

Next section

  Planning scenarios 2

You scout a backyard plum tree that we have harvested in previous years and has produced 75, 100 and 150 pounds of plums total. The owner says that there seems to be about the same amount as before.

What containers do you need for the donated amount?
3 banana boxes.

Question 1 explanation:
Plums often (but not always) are too soft for to be transported in bags.
Almost all plums are too big for clamshells.
You will probably pick no more than 150 pounds and donate 75 pounds. Plums weigh about the same in boxes as apples do, although if is often a good idea not to fill the boxes so deep. If you put 30 pounds in each box, 3 boxes should do it. If you will donate more than half, then adjust accordingly.

How many pickers would it take to pick the plums?


Question 2 explanation:
Pounds per picker for plums can vary a great deal depending on the crop and the picker(s). One picker picker nearly 600 pounds at a backyard harvest but the picker was experienced and the fruit was dense and easily reached. At large harvests the average seems to be about 45 pounds donated per picker when there is ample fruit. (Check at: Reports Generator.
150 pounds donated divided by 90 total pounds per picker = about 2 pickers. 1 might be plenty, but 3 is probably too many.

Next section

  Planning scenarios 3

The harvest director asks you to help scout a plum orchard that was also picked last year.

What do you do first?
Look at the Crop Details and previous harvest info in the database.

Question 1 explanation:
It's always best to find out as much as you can before going to scout a site. Leaders of previous harvests of this crop left information for you in database because they believed that it would be helpful to you.
You are unlikely to find an apple in the plum orchard (unless you brought it as a snack in which case checking it for worms is a good idea).

The orchard has 4 rows of 20 small trees and you pick a portion of one and estimate that each tree has 50 pounds of fruit. Pickers donated 75 pounds per person last year. How many pickers do you need?


Question 2 explanation:
There are 4 times 20 equals 80 trees.
75 pounds donated per picker equals 150 pounds total per picker.
80 trees times 50 pounds per tree equals 4000 pounds of plums total.
4000 pounds divided by 150 pounds total per picker equals 27 pickers.

What containers do you need?

2 stacks of banana boxes

Question 3 explanation:
4000 pounds total equals 2000 pounds donated.
Banana boxes are best for plums and if you plan for 30 to 35 pounds per box so they are not filled too deep, you will need 57 to 66 boxes. You should get 2 stacks of boxes (36 to a stack).

What else do you need?

Pallet jack plus two extra empty pallets

Question 4 explanation:
Since you want to stack the filled boxes of plums only five rows high, there will be 30 boxes on each pallet. 66 boxes divided by 30 to a pallet = 2.2 pallets (rounded up to 3). Since you are getting only 2 stacks of boxes you need an extra empty wooden pallet for the filled boxes of plums. It would be best, since there is room on truck, to also get another empty wooden pallet to put any unused boxes on. If you expect pickers to donate more than half, then adjust accordingly.

Next section.

  Advanced problems 1

This is the first of several advanced harvest planning scenarios that combine much of the information found in the scouting and harvest sections of this manual. The online manual's format is not ideal for these but they can give leaders good practice at planning, especially the kinds of calculations that can be necessary. Some scenarios or questions will run over into the next section. You may need to refer to the Database:formulas section or the [] Reports Generator page to find some of the numbers that you need.

Harvest Planning Scenario - apples A small apple orchard site shown in the aerial photo has been registered. The apple trees have fruit evenly distributed from 5 feet up to about 15 feet. 12 of the trees are producing. Compared to other apple trees, these are of average size and average production and you think you will get about 200 pounds per tree.

Follow the questions below and in the next section about this harvest planning scenario.

How many pounds are available to harvest?
2400 lbs

Question 1 explanation:
200 x 12 trees = 2400 pounds

How many pickers would it take to pick the apples?


Question 2 explanation:
Pickers pick about 180 pounds of apples per person (that's found on the Database: formulas section).
If they donate half that makes 90 pounds donated each.
2400 divided by 2 = 1200 pounds donated
1200 divided by 90 = 13 pickers

How many cars can be parked and how many pickers will they bring?

9 cars and 14 people

Question 3 explanation:
From the aerial view there is parking for about 9 cars.
9 cars times 1.6 people per car = 14 people

What is needed to pack and transport the apples to MPFS?

30 boxes and a pickup truck with a restraining net

Question 4 explanation:
1200 pounds is 30 banana boxes of apples. These could be transported in a small MPFS truck or one pickup truck or three Subaru Foresters.

Next section

  Advanced problems 2

This is the second of several advanced harvest planning scenarios that combine much of the information found in the scouting and harvest sections of this manual. The online manual's format is not ideal for these but they can give leaders good practice at planning, especially the kinds of calculations that can be necessary. Some scenarios or questions will run over into the next section. You may need to refer to the Database:formulas section or the [] Reports Generator page to find some of the numbers that you need.

Harvest Planning Scenario - blueberries A blueberry site shown in the aerial photo must be picked in one day because the owners are going on vacation. The bushes are planted at 600 plants per acre. You pick an average bush and get 3 pounds. Parking is restricted to the yellow square 180 feet on each side.

Follow the questions below and in the next section about this harvest planning scenario.

How many pounds are available to harvest?
2700 lbs

Question 1 explanation:
The area of the blueberry bushes is about twice the size of the yellow square:

180ft x 180ft x 2 = 64,800 sq ft [from the aerial view]
64,800 sq ft = 1.5 acres [using the website calculator]
1.5 acres = 900 plants [from the given information]
900 plants = 2700 pounds of blueberries [from your test pick of one bush]

How many pickers would it take to pick 2700 pounds of blueberries in two hours?


Question 2 explanation:
Our blueberry pickers average 15-20 pounds each. [from the Reports page]
2700 pounds = 135 to 180 pickers.

How many cars can be parked and how many pickers will they bring?

90 cars, 126 pickers

Question 3 explanation:
180 ft of head-in parking = 18 cars [from the website calculator]
Parking spaces are 20 feet long and must have 25 feet between rows [from the Database: formulas section]
|------|      |------|------|      |------|------|      |
|------|      |------|------|      |------|------|      |
|------|      |------|------|      |------|------|      |

5 parallel rows = 90 cars
90 cars = 126 pickers [from the website calculator]

How many pounds will 126 pickers donate?


Question 4 explanation:
Total pounds will be 1890-2520 [16 times 15-20 pounds each]
Donated pounds will be 945-1260 [half of the total]

Next section

  Advanced problems 3

This is the third of several advanced harvest planning scenarios that combine much of the information found in the scouting and harvest sections of this manual. The online manual's format is not ideal for these but they can give leaders good practice at planning, especially the kinds of calculations that can be necessary. Some scenarios or questions will run over into the next section. You may need to refer to the Database:formulas section or the [] Reports Generator page to find some of the numbers that you need.

Harvest Planning Scenario - pears (This one is very difficult and it is even hard to include all the necessary information in the scenario. There is no substitute for seeing the site in person. Remember that these are for learning, not for testing.)

A pear orchard site shown in the aerial photo has been registered. There are 75 pollinator trees spaced evenly throughout the orchard. Each pollinator tree has about 300 pounds of pears. Half of each tree is accessible from the ground and half with orchard ladders. The ground is very uneven and East half of the orchard is on a steep slope that goes up from the lower parking area. There is an irrigation ditch between the parking area and the orchard with one bridge. It is 560 feet from the bridge to the far side of the orchard up the hill. Parking is available in the light box shown on the detail view and head-in between the rows along top half of the main lane up the hill from the bridge. The MPFS truck cannot get to the parking area but must be parked on the access road 100 yards away.

Follow the questions below and in the next section about this harvest planning scenario.

How many pounds are available to harvest and how many pickers would it take to pick the pears?
22,500 pounds and 75 pickers

Question 1 explanation:
75 pollinator trees times 300 lbs each = 22,500
Pear harvests like this show pickers pick about 300 pounds each [Reports Page].
22,500/300 = 75 pickers

How many cars can be parked, where, and how many pickers will they bring?

40 cars in the lower area and 12 cars between rows in the orchard; 83 pickers.

Question 2 explanation:
The lower parking area can hold 1 head-in row along 300 feet and 1 head-in row along 100 feet.
300/10 + 100/10 = 40 cars
Answer: 40 cars in the lower area
There is 280 feet of head-in parking between the rows, but only 12 rows. If every space between a row has a car, the ATVs will not be able to get into the rows. So, using both sides and every other row adds 12 cars.
40+12 = 52 cars that will bring 83 pickers.

How many pounds will the pickers donate?


Question 3 explanation:
There is enough parking for all the needed pickers. 75 pickers times 150 pounds = 11,250 if pickers donate half. If pickers donate two-thirds they will donate 75 x 200 = 15,000 pounds

What is needed to pack and transport the pears to MPFS if they donate 15,000 pounds?

375 boxes; 2 large trucks

Question 4 explanation:
15,000 pounds divided by 40 pounds per banana box = 375 boxes
375 boxes divided by 6 boxes per layer on a pallet = 63 layers
63 layers divided by 5 layers per pallet = 12+ pallets.
12 pallets = 1 large truck with 8 pallets plus 1 small truck with 4 pallets.
BUT, 8 pallets x 5 layers x 6 boxes x 40 pounds = 9600 pounds and the large truck’s capacity is only 8000 pounds.
So, it will take 2 large trucks carrying 7,500 pounds each.
7,500 pounds divided by 40 pounds per box = 187 boxes = 6 pallets per large truck.

Next section


The website has much more contact information, forms and procedures than the few that are listed here for quick reference specifically for harvest leaders when they are planning and leading harvests.

Salem Harvest

Harvest Director
Elise Bauman
(503) 400-6618 ext. 2

Database Manager
Dick Yates
(503) 991-5525 (home), (503) 302-0636 (cell)
(503) 400-6618 ext. 1

Volunteer Coordinator
Linda Pantalone
(503) 400-6618 ext. 4
(503) 551-2648 (cell)

[] Documents and Forms

[] Harvest Leaders Page

Marion Polk Food Share

General number: (503) 581-3855

Kendra Alexander, Food Resource Developer, ext. 308

Mike Campbell, Receiving Coordinator, ext. 332

[">Food Pantries list