After going dormant for a year, a program devoted to finding a good home for the city’s unwanted fruit is now back in action.
“We’re a group of volunteers who will pick fruit trees in town if owners aren’t able to pick their trees, so the fruit doesn’t go to waste,” explained Alisa Senecal, the new co-ordinator of the Penticton Fruit Tree Project.
“Then we divide the fruit up so the tree owner keeps some, the volunteers will take some home, and then we donate the majority of it to different organizations in town.”
After operating from 2010 to 2012, the project went on hiatus last summer, but has now been replanted by Senecal.
“I wasn’t living in town at the time, but I had heard about it and it sounded like a great project, so when I moved here in the fall, I decided to start planning to start it up again,” she said.
So far this year, 15 volunteers have pulled down nearly 400 kilograms of cherries and apricots. Two-thirds of the fruit went to the Salvation Army food bank, Soupateria, Unity House, and the South Okanagan Women In Need Society’s transition house, Senecal said.
She encouraged anyone who has trees that need to be picked to get in touch with her at least a week in advance, if possible, so volunteers can be arranged.
Glory MacIntyre, who helmed the project through its first three years, said her crew simply got too busy to keep it running.
“It was just a matter of time constraints and it’s a lot of co-ordination. Picking fruit is fun, but it’s also time consuming, (and) other things came up in people’s lives,” she said.
“I’m happy that Alisa has… reinvigorated the project, because it has such potential.”
MacIntyre said the project’s best year saw it harvest about 1,100 kilograms of fruit.
“And that was just a few picks, so there’s potential to pick, like, tens of thousands of pounds,” she added. “If you have a lot pickers it can add up really quickly, and there’s so much fruit around that people can utilize.”
Senecal said that besides trees to pick, the group also needs scales, bags, buckets and ladders to help get the fruit down.
To donate equipment or schedule a pick, contact the Penticton Fruit Tree Project at 250-488-2376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.