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You’ve heard of apple picking…but what about apple gleaning?

The two go hand-in-hand, literally.

Monday, more than 100 volunteers hand picked 15,000 pounds of apples for those in need.

Joy Hollowell takes us to Johnston’s Apple Orchard in North Ellsworth for this annual volunteer event.

“Apple gleaning is a tradition that happens in Hancock County every year,” says Hannah Semler, Gleaning Coordinator for Healthy Acadia. “It was started by UMaine Cooperative Extension in collaboration with Healthy Acadia. It’s an Old Testament concept. Ruth the Gleaner would go out and the idea is to recover food that would otherwise be lost or go to waste, and get it to people who need it.”

Each fall, Johnston’s Orchards in Ellsworth donates its end of season apples to food pantries and community meal sites in Washington and Hancock counties.

“Oh, it’s good,” says Brett Johnston, owner of the orchard on Branch Pond Road. “We enjoy doing it. Other than that, it would be going to waste. What a shame, there’s no need for that.”

This year was especially bountiful for apple growers, so the picking is still prime this late in the season. Volunteers showed up throughout the day to gather the fruit, including area high school students, groups from Downeast Horizons, representatives from the area food pantries, farmers, and UMaine Cooperative Extension Master Gardner volunteers.

“We’ve been involved in this for the last two years, and it’s just a beautiful day and doing something that we enjoy,” says Doug Gray, a Master Garden volunteer.

“And the apples are so beautiful,” adds Mary Kellett, another Master Gardner volunteer. “And the fact that they are going to be eaten by people who need them.”

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