After record-breaking season, Harbes family makes massive apple donation

Harbes Family Farm has donated 300,000 pounds of apples to regional food banks, after a record-breaking apple season at the farm this fall. 

The single donation, like this year’s crop, was a new record for the Mattituck farm. Ed Harbes Jr. said the farm usually works with Island Harvest Food Bank to donate extra produce, but the organization was unable to process the volume of apples this year. The food bank put the farm in touch with Feeding New York State, a larger regional food bank.

“The record-breaking apple crop put us in a position to do what, for us, is a record-breaking donation at the end of the year, to get seven tractor trailer loads worth of apples to hungry families,” Mr. Harbes said. 

Feeding New York State is a state association for 10-member food banks, said produce manager Jim Germain. Two of those are on Long Island. A source at Island Harvest connected Mr. Germain with Harbes in August, he said. 

The food bank distributed fresh-picked apples from Harbes over the course of a month, from mid-November through mid-December. “Grab and go” foods are a “prized commodity” for food banks, Mr. Germain said. 

“With limited financial resources, it’s something that most of the time we can’t afford to go out and ask for that donation, so [the apples were] a great, great item for us,” Mr. Germain said. The organization was also able to include the apples in fresh-to-go boxes, which contain four to six produce items.

A portion of the crop went to Island Harvest and Long Island Cares on Long Island, as well as City Harvest, which distributes to the five boroughs in New York City. The rest went farther down the coast.

“A lot of that product went to what we call the Mid-Atlantic Regional Cooperative, where they have probably almost 30 members that would receive those apples, so that was a great thing too,” Mr. Germain said. “Our apples not only stayed in New York, but all up and down the mid-Atlantic coast.”

He expressed hope for a long-term relationship with Harbes Farm.

“The dedication was phenomenal, it was very inspiring,” he said. 

Mr. Harbes said the farm has worked with Island Harvest for about 20 years and was only introduced to Feeding New York this season. “That was a really good start and we’d love to continue,” he said. 

Mr. Harbes added that Harbes Family Farm was “really happy” to give back to those in need. 

“Hunger is a real concern around the country and the world and to be able to give back in a meaningful way is what Harbes Family Farm is all about,” he said.