Like other hipster hubs, Portland, Oregon, has its fair share of coffee roasters and craft beer connoisseurs. But thanks to its mild climate and long growing season, the Northwest metropolis also has an almost-A-to-Z cornucopia of crops, including apples, cherries, figs, grapes, kiwis, plums and quinces. The only problem: Many residents lack the equipment, time, or know-how to reap the bounty in their own backyard. Enter the Portland Fruit Tree Project (PFTP). The nonprofit, established in 2007, saves heaps of fresh produce from putrefied fates and instead shepherds it off to food pantries.

Through PFTP's harvest program, homeowners can make their private trees available for picking. "Someone might not be interested in harvesting their apple tree because it produces 300 pounds of fruit," says Andy Fisher, PFTP's former interim executive director. "So they register with our organization and let us know when their apples are getting ripe." Volunteers scout trees' abundance, accessibility, and quality. Half of each harvest is donated to food banks, some of it goes to the helpers (PFTP reserves many volunteer slots for low-income folks), and up to a quarter goes to the tree's owner, if he or she chooses.

To date, PFTP has rescued more than 393,000 pounds of fruit and started five neighborhood orchards. "We're an organization people want to get behind," says Fisher. "We build community, address hunger and help homeowners avoid a yard full of waste—and bees."

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