How to Get Free Fruit
Fresh fruit is great and free fruit is even better! The cost of produce can add up at the store and you can save quite a bit of money by thinking outside the strawberry box. There is a bounty of fruit waiting to be eaten and people who would love for someone to take it home. Whether you clean up the neighbor's apple tree or forage the woods for fresh berries, free fruit is easier to get than you might think. Check out these simple strategies for getting free fruit by the bushel.
Glean from Farmers
Farmers make great friends. Get to know the farmers in your area and they may allow you to glean (gather and collect) from their fields or orchards after they've finished harvesting. The typical commercial harvest can leave bushels and bushels of food behind and that's a lot of free fruit for a few hours of work.
Did You Know? Farmers used to leave the corners of their fields unharvested for gleaning.
Grapes, boysenberries, and blueberries are just a few of the fruits that you can find growing in the wild.
Take a foraging class to brush up on your identification skills. Then, hit the trails in pursuit of free fruit.
Keep in Mind: Picking fruit from private property without permission isn't foraging – it's stealing. Always ask before you pick.
Grow Your Own Fruit from Cuttings
Blackberries, raspberries and many other berries are easy to start from root cuttings. Find a friend that's growing what you want to grow; then, ask for a cutting. Before long you'll have all the free berries that you can eat.
Tip: These berries may be easy to start, but they also spread fast! Plant them with plenty of room and be ready to pick a lot of the runners before they get out of hand.
Grow Your Own Fruit Trees from Seeds
Some fruit trees are easy to grow from seed (namely pitted fruits like peaches, apricots, and nectarines). If you eat a piece of fruit that's particularly tasty; be sure to save the pit. Once it's had some time to dry, you can crack it open, and harvest the seeds.
Note: Many seeds are patented. Stay on the right side of the law by saving unpatented seeds only.
Barter for the Bounty
Do you have a lot of apples, but want a few pears? Find someone who's willing to trade a portion of their bounty for some of yours.
No fruit to trade? Find something else that you can barter instead – mending services, help with weeding, an oil change, etc.
Lots of people have fruit trees in their yard and absolutely no interest in harvesting the fruit. Many of them even consider the fruit a nuisance and would be happy to see it gone. Post an ad on Freecycle or Craigslist offering to pick the fruit and clean up all the overripe free falls. You may be surprised at how many takers you get.
Tip: If you plan to use the fruit to make jam or other home-canned goodies, offer to give the owner of the fruit half of everything that you make. Now, who could refuse a deal like that?