Harvest Leader Manual

  Scouting: steps


For large (farm) harvests the Harvest Director or site scout contacts the property owner to arrange a visit at the site. For some smaller harvests, when the crop and owner are well-known from previous years, a harvest might be planned without a scouting visit. For small harvests the harvest leader most often contacts the owner to find out about the crop and then may combine scouting with picking the crop. A ‘scout-and-pick’ packet, linked on the Crop Details page, is used in that case. This saves doing a separate scouting trip, but risks having other volunteers arriving and finding that there is nothing suitable to pick. For newly registered, small crops the database manager will often have done a preliminary scouting.

For all size crops, the first steps of scouting come before going to the site. If there have been previous harvests of the crop, there may be vital information in the Crop Details page or in the Other Info section of the detail pages for previous harvests. Previous harvest leaders have put that information there because they believe that it will be useful to you. Find it and read it.

There are other sources of information can be checked before going to the site so that you have a framework or context to do the best scouting. For farm crops, aerial views in Google Maps or the Crop Detail page can give you a preview of the area. For crops with which you are unfamiliar, a web search can teach you about the crop, how it grows, and when and how it is picked. You want the grower to have confidence in your ability to manage the harvest and your having some knowledge of the area and the crop beforehand will help.

For large harvests a team that may include harvest leaders, site scouts, and the Harvest Director tours the property with the owner. For large harvests it is best to have several experienced people.

Using the Harvest Planning Form the team assesses the property and makes plans for how to best run the harvest. This form is a checklist of factors to consider and a reminder of the information that is necessary in order to post the harvest.

The site visit of new crops is important for establishing a good working relationship with the property owner. We want property owners to have confidence that Merced County Gleaning is well-organized, professional and competent. At the site visit they are still deciding whether to trust us with their property and their crop. It may be helpful to relate some of Merced County Gleaning’s experience with similar crops.

Topics that should always be covered with the property owner:

  • The steps Merced County Gleaning takes to organize the harvest: scouting, scheduling, arranging for produce transport, posting the harvest, setting up, supervising, loading, cleaning up.
  • That we carry insurance for property damage and accidental injury, and have safety policies for all aspects of the harvest.
  • Emphasize that all volunteers are previously registered with Merced County Gleaning and sign up for specific harvests. Signing up for harvests includes agreeing to the liability waiver that protects the property owner as well as Merced County Gleaning. This is often a primary concern of property owners. Have a copy of the waiver to show the property owner if asked.
  • Details of the site itself such as boundaries, hazards, parking.
  • Details of the crop such as what it is, its condition and how it is best picked.
  • Have the property owner sign the Entry Authorization Form. This is not an optional step. It is usually one of the last tasks of the site visit so that the property owner has had time to have all concerns addressed and is comfortable with signing.


For large (farm) harvests the Harvest Director or site scout contacts the property owner to arrange a visit at the site. For some smaller harvests, when the crop and owner are well-known from previous years, a harvest be planned without a scouting visit. For small harvests the harvest leader most often contacts the owner to find out about the crop and then may combine scouting with picking the crop. A ‘scout-and-pick’ packet, linked on the Crop Details page, is used in that case. This saves doing a separate scouting trip, but risks having other volunteers arriving and finding that there is nothing suitable to pick. For newly registered, small crops the database manager will have done a preliminary scouting.

For all size crops, the first steps of scouting come before going to the site. If there have been previous harvests of the crop, there may be vital information in the Crop Details page or in the Other Info section of the detail pages for previous harvests. Previous harvest leaders have put that information there because they believe that it will be useful to you. Find it and read it.

There are other sources of information can be checked before going to the site so that you have a framework or context to do the best scouting. For farm crops, aerial views in Google Maps or the Crop Detail page can give you a preview of the area. For crops with which you are unfamiliar, a web search can teach you about the crop, how it grows, and when and how it is picked. You want the grower to have confidence in your ability to manage the harvest and your having some knowledge of the area and the crop beforehand will help.

For large harvests a team that may include harvest leaders, site scouts, and the Harvest Director tours the property with the owner. For large harvests it is experienced people.

Using the Harvest Planning Form the team assesses the property and makes plans for how to best run the harvest. This form is a checklist of factors to consider and a reminder of the information that is necessary in order to post the harvest.

The site visit of new crops is important for establishing a good working relationship with the property owner. We want property owners to that Merced County Gleaning is well-organized, professional and competent. At the site visit they are still deciding whether to trust us with their property and their crop. It may be helpful to relate some of Merced County Gleaning’s experience with similar crops.

Topics that should be covered with the property owner:

  • The steps Merced County Gleaning takes to organize the harvest: scouting, scheduling, arranging for produce transport, posting the harvest, setting up, supervising, loading, cleaning up.
  • That we carry for property damage and accidental injury, and have safety policies for all aspects of the harvest.
  • Emphasize that all volunteers are previously registered with Merced County Gleaning and sign up for specific harvests. Signing up for harvests includes agreeing to the that protects the property owner as well as Merced County Gleaning. This is often a primary concern of property owners. Have a copy of the waiver to show the property owner if asked.
  • Details of the site itself such as boundaries, hazards, parking.
  • Details of the crop such as what it is, its condition and how it is best picked.
  • Have the property owner sign the Entry Authorization Form. This is not step. It is usually one of the last tasks of the site visit so that the property owner has had time to have all concerns addressed and is comfortable with signing.


When scouting large crops:
Having fewer people involved means less confusion and a better result.
The crop owner is always the best source of information.
People who have harvested the crop before can be helpful.
The Entry Authorization Form:
Must be signed before scouting begins.
Is a required step when scouting.
Prevents all parties from being sued.
Important areas to include in scouting are
Boundaries and hazards.
When the crop was planted.
Whether commercial picking crews have been on the site.
The Liability Waiver:
Protects the property owner.
Guarantees treatment to volunteers in case of injury.
Is optional for harvest leaders.