Saturday,Â I was blessed with the opportunity to ride with another family of volunteers out to Mosier, OR (in the beautiful Columbia Gorge) to glean pears for Birch Community Services.Â Â The weather was very rainy, windy, and chilly, so I was grateful that the children could all stay home, snuggled up reading their latest chapter book with Daddy.
The five of us wore large canvas pear-picking bags, and picked 40-50 lbs of Bartletts off of the trees at a time and then unloaded them into large crates.Â Due to the windy, rainy conditions, I didn’t get any pictures of the actual picking, but here you can see a fraction of what we picked.Â The owner’s of the orchard estimated that we picked close to 2200 lbs of pears!!
You may ask, why were thousands of pounds of beautiful pears sitting unpicked, unwanted on the trees?Â Â Well, the owners explained to me that there isn’t any profit in Bartletts – they cost $120/crate to grow,Â but can only get $180/crate on the market – so by the time they pay workers to pick them, and absorb the cost of transporting them, they actually lose money on the Barletts.
The farmer makes his living growing Bosc pears for market.Â So, why grow Barletts at all, then??Â Bosc pears command a much higher price than Barletts, but the trees are not self-fertile, and require another pear variety for pollination.Â So, for every 4 rows of Bosc pear trees planted in the orchard, the farmer must plant a whole row of Barletts in order to reap a crop.Â The Barletts are generously left available for the gleaners.
After picking over 8000 pears to donate to BCS, we were allowed to harvest for ourselves as many pears as we could put upÂ – so I have over 150 lbs of pears sitting on my kitchen floor to ripen over the next week!Â I’ll be dehydrating and canning pears and pear butter non-stop late in the week and over the next weekend.Â Â Bring some jars and you’re welcome to join me and take home canned pears for your family, too!Â Â I’d love to have your company!
For more on the culture and history of gleaning, check out my favorite (and oh-so-French!) documentary – Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (The Gleaners and I).