Blueberry Season!

Blueberry season in the Willamette Valley runs from July to September, depending on variety. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “There are three types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush and hybrid half-high. The most commonly planted blueberry is the high bush.” Among the three types there are many sub-varieties.

Our group was called out to glean at Creswell Blueberries, a U-Pick farm in Creswell, Oregon, just 10 minutes south of Eugene on I-5. Creswell Blueberries boasts 7 different types of blueberries, organized in rows based on their type and season. Owners Ron and Nancy have seen a bumper crop this year and wanted to share the bounty with the community.

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We were given rows 1-4, Draper blueberries, on the first visit.

Large Draper blueberries at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

Large Draper blueberries at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

I thought a row of four when I set up the glean. It turned out to be much, much bigger than anticipated.

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The field is immaculately kept free of weeds, the bushes are pruned and watered regularly. The field was huge!

Rows of gorgeous, healthy blueberry bushes at Creswell Blueberies! Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

Rows of gorgeous, healthy blueberry bushes at Creswell Blueberies! Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

Luckily it was a beautiful summer morning in Oregon. 6-8 am is the perfect time to start a picking adventure- not too hot and not too busy. Ideally the crew should arrive before the dew has dried to maximize picking time before the bees become active.

Beautiful field at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Amber Perry.

Beautiful field at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Amber Perry.

We were permitted to bring children with us to this glean, and many gleaners did. When we bring kids to gleans, they must stay right with parents and help as much as possible. I am happy to say that the kids were very well behaved and picked many buckets of berries on their own!

Pickers filling buckets at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Amber Perry.

Pickers filling buckets at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Amber Perry.

We worked well together and picked well over 180 pounds, half of which the owners donated to Food for Lane County. Our Gleaners got to keep the rest.

Ron helps Roger pour some of the bounty into a transport box. Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

Ron helps Roger pour some of the bounty into a transport box. Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

The blueberries were all so huge and impossibly blue! We always look forward to our trips to Creswell Blueberries, and every time someone asks for a recommendation, we never hesitate to suggest their farm.

Amber Perry, volunteer gleaner, working at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

Amber Perry, volunteer gleaner, working at Creswell Blueberries. Photo courtesy of Brandy Collier.

Creswell Blueberries is located at:

34030 Orchard Ave., Creswell, OR 97426

They are typically open for U-Pick most days, but can be reached at:

(541) 895-8907

Thank you Ron and Nancy!

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Eugene area retailers/pricing for canning supplies

I added a new link to the Community Resources grouping on the right-hand side of the page. It’s a Google Apps spreadsheet that anyone can view. Please request edit access or email us at eugeneareagleaners@gmail.com if you have anything to add!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qwwKhV-Wgaa148D5fDI8qiYgTn5rRQN2RyohjMrwkm8/edit?usp=sharing

The intention is to house and collect shareable information to help find the best deals on canning supplies of any type.

OWI-57-Grow-Your-Own-Can-Your-Own

It’s not too late to plant! by Sonja Towner

Hello Gleaner Family!!

My name is Sonja.  This is my first time writing, and I must be honest, I have only been gardening for a couple years.  So not all this info comes from me, but was a group effort.

Leslie Newcomer says, “Should have some stuff started indoors or a greenhouse, like tomatoes, peppers and other stuff, peas and lettuces can go in pretty soon, also onion sets etc.”

Sarah Grimm says, “Sweet peas!  Start or seed. I’ve also got arugula spring in the garden…and am sowing kale, and radishes.”

Diane Thurlow says “I have friends who grow a large garden in Veneta.  Last week they told me they have already planted onions, cabbage, lettuce, brussel sprouts and broccoli, beets and peas.”

Kevin Prier says:

“I’ve been compiling several gardening resources on my web site, including a planting calendar for spring and winter crops, seed saving, and more. You are welcome to link to that on the Gleaners site: http://suburbanhomecraft.com/resources/
Also on there is a great gleaning resource: http://fallingfruit.org/ where we can add local fruit/gleaning opportunities on an interactive map. I’ve added several trees in my area. “

There are many seeds/seedlings that can and should be in the ground now.  Since the ground has reached the right temperature, things such as chick peas, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, celery, Kale, leeks, most lettuces, onions, leeks, garlic,  spinach, collards, most cabbages, melons, parsley, parsnips, peas, radish, chards and turnips.

When the ground reaches 60 degrees, which mine did yesterday, things like beans (bush, fava and lima) and carrots maybe planted.  At 65 degrees, you may plant artichokes, asparagus, beans (pole, edamame, snap), corn, cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.

I have found that Territorial Seeds Company has a free catalog that has all this information as well.  Best part is it’s FREE!!!  You can go to their website and order it. http://www.territorialseed.com/

I have also discovered on their website that they have a garden planner in which I found very helpful.  Its helps provide information and what plant families go together for best growth, and helps to make sure you have the right amount of space!!!  The first year is free and only $25 a year after that.  I hope this information is helpful.  http://gardenplanner.territorialseed.com/

Apples and Pears, Oh My!

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One of the many apple trees being gleaned this year.

This morning I noticed a slight touch of coolness to the air, a hint of summer beginning to fade into autumn. Glean requests for apples and pears are nearly drowning our volunteers in wonderful fruit while plum and grape requests are beginning to pick up. It’s time for harvest season!

Early apple varieties, such as Gravenstein, have been one of the most requested items lately. One glean netted over 500 pounds for Food For Lane County and the trees were still heavy with fruit when the gleaners had to stop. More and more apple requests are coming in so look for tasty apple recipes and ways to preserve apples in the coming weeks. (And if you’d like to volunteer for a glean hop over to the Membership section to find out how.)

Blueberries are ending with only one glean scheduled this week. It has been a fantastic blueberry season! We were able to connect with many farmers and private citizens who shared their bounty with the community. This season has been one of the best with over 300 pounds of blueberries gleaned for Food for Lane County. A huge thank you to our wonderful blueberry growers!

Plum Season

The tree tonight was SO plum-laden, the owners had its branches propped up with a 2x4!

The tree tonight was SO plum-laden, the owners had its branches propped up with a 2×4!

Volunteers are needed to help glean area plums this time of year. Mild winters, minimal rainfall during the growing season and low humidity conditions create productive crops. Oregon is a top grower of plums, second only to California in production in the United States. Eugene is fortunate to host many delicious varieties.

Picking

“Feel the fruit to determine its stage of ripeness. Fully ripe plums will feel slightly soft and yield to slight finger pressure. Gently apply pressure to the fruit with your thumb to check for softness. The skin will feel powdery, and the fruit will give off a pleasant aroma. Less ripe fruit will feel firm and smooth.” – gardenguides.com

Eating

Blue-black Italian prune-plums like “Blue Damsons” are best for drying. Yellow ones like “Yellow Egg” (oval) or “Shiro” (round) can make a tangy jam and are sweetest when soft. Red plums like “Santa Rosa” fruits have red skin, a slightly crisper texture and a sweet-tart taste lovely for eating fresh from the tree.

Storage

Store at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate.

Urban Fruit Gleaning

A video from the Portland Fruit Tree Project explaining how volunteers collect fresh fruit that grows on neighborhood trees, and drops it off at local Food Banks for distribution to those in need. The great thing about this program is that in large part, the fruit would not be harvested or eaten by anyone—if not for fruit gleaning. Everyone involved benefits, including the trees, as harvesting is beneficial to their health!
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hsEGgfDoTwI.x?p=1 width=”720″ height=”433″]

Bread Donations

StollenEvery Wednesday, a Eugene Area Gleaner volunteer picks up a donation from the Bread Stop and the Muffin Mill. We cannot predict how much bread or the types that will be donated. It is simply a gift. Sometimes it is there in abundance, sometimes it is not. Types of breadstuffs we have seen include: sliced bread (wheat, rye, white, sourdough, flaxseed, multigrain, potato), rounds (rosemary, potato), focaccia, french bread, hoagie rolls, hamburger buns, pizza dough (rare), challah, granola, rolls. Types of muffins, etc that we’ve seen: muffins, cookies, cake, cheesecake, and cinnamon buns.

The bread is amazing quality; no preservatives, all-natural, which means it goes moldy fast. Because we are receiving this gift at or near the sell-by date, I recommend refrigerating or freezing the bread if it cannot be used immediately. We sort the bread (moldy or not) upon arrival. People with chickens take the moldy bread so that nothing goes to waste.

We rotate the location of the initial bread donation every month to reach as many Gleaners as possible. The driver volunteer meets the host volunteer and hands off the bread. The Host will set up the bread in front of his or her house (preferably covered and not muddy!) with flyers explaining what the bread is for and what our group does, inviting new members. They will then email the list with their name, address, phone number, and approximately what is available at the start of the donation.

Please be sure to “Like” The Bread Stop and The Muffin Mill on Facebook!