Plenty of Virginia produce never makes it to the grocery store because it might be too ripe or small when it's picked. Thursday, peaches that would normally be thrown away are being salvaged for a far better fate.
Governor Bob McDonnell declared Thursday the second annual commonwealth day of gleaning - that is the traditional word for taking leftover crops from farmers' fields and giving them to those in need. NBC29 visited Crown Orchard Company to see the process in action.
"Mother Nature always throws us curves so unfortunately we can't grow perfect fruit," said Judy Chiles, part owner of Crown Orchard Company.
So volunteers across the state picked slightly blemished fruit in honor of the governor's declaration.
"It could be a ripening issue, they may be too ripe, they maybe they have a soft spot on them, it could be cosmetic, a hail spot on them," Chiles said.
The volunteer fruit sorters had their work cut out for them; sorting through 900-pound bins of fruit. Some of those sorters included volunteers from the Maple Grove Christian Church.
"We go through the bins behind me sorting out the peaches that are not good enough quality to pass on and the numbers of peaches that are good quality, we put in our truck," said Jim Hassman, Charlottesville-area coordinator for Society of St. Andrew's Virginia Gleaning Network.
Crown Orchard peaches will be transported to 15 agencies around Charlottesville, such as nursing homes and food banks.
"A lot of people don't have access to fruits and vegetables, especially farm-fresh like this, so this is a really wonderful opportunity for us to offer our residents with an abundance of produce," said Bram Crowe-Getty, resident services coordinator for Community Housing Properties.
The organizers of Thursday's event say several charities in and around Charlottesville will benefit, including the Piedmont House, JABA and The Haven.
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