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Pickers raid trees for charity

Got too much fruit? The Okanagan Fruit Tree Project will pick it and donate it to local charities.

Volunteers have gathered for 17 fruit picks in just over two weeks, bringing in more than 1,500 pounds of cherries. 

The non-profit aims to alleviate hunger by gleaning, or harvesting unused fruit from backyard fruit trees. 

Harvested fruit is shared among the volunteer pickers, tree owners, and local charities and organizations serving those in need. 

“The goal is to reduce the amount of wasted food and share the healthy produce with hungry people in our communities,” says the project’s founder and President, Casey Hamilton. 

Since it began in 2012, the organization has picked over 23,000 pounds of fruit throughout the Central Okanagan. 

“The growth and response from the community is incredible,” says Ailsa Beischer, the project coordinator. “In our first two weeks this year, we’ve already picked over 1,500 pounds of cherries and the calls come in daily from tree owners and volunteers.”

Fruit is donated to local community organizations like the Kelowna Community Food Bank, the Gospel Mission, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre, the Boys and Girls Club and other charitable groups. 

They distribute the fruit to seniors, children and families and individuals in need, either directly or through educational and recreational programs. 

The project’s growth and success in 2014 is largely attributed to grant funds received from the City of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan Foundation.

The project continues to expand and has recently adopted the Penticton Fruit Tree Project as a new chapter of the organization. 

To sign up as a volunteer or register your fruit tree please contact the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project’s coordinator, Ailsa Beischer, directly at [email protected] or 778-214-5664.

For more information, visit www.fruittreeproject.com or “Like” the project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OkanaganFruitTreeProject.

The Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is also seeking equipment donations including ladders, step stools, picking bags, a weighing scale and first aid kits.

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