A couple weeks ago, we spent a lovely fall afternoon picking apples, and came home with a big bushel full of the fresh crisp fruits for practically nothing.
It was the Annual Gleaning Day our local orchard. Every year, at the end of the season, they allow people to "glean" all the apples that are left on the tree. There were also pumpkins, squash and gourds, but we had our hands full with apples. All they ask is that you donate something to local food pantries (You are also limited to one bushel of apples and you have to purchase a basket for $3, but I can think of a million uses for a nice bushel basket!).
The apples that were left were not "perfect" like you see in the grocery store, there were some spots and knobs and misshapen fruit, but the taste is amazing. A cool crisp apple freshly picked from the tree is pure heaven. We have been eating them fresh for weeks, and I also made applesauce and canned some slices for pie.
I will be marking the calendar for next year's fall gleaning. It's a great way to get inexpensive healthy food, support your community, and it's a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors!