Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is seeing a lower number in fruit yield for donations

Lower fruit yield for charity

Casey Richardson

The Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is continuing to pick unwanted fruit off of trees throughout the Okanagan, but the tough year for fruit growers has also impacted how much the charity has for donations. 

“We don't have access to quite as much fruit this year,” Michael Schutz, one of the harvest leaders for the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project said. “For some particular fruits the market’s not great or the season wasn’t great.”

“We just had access to a little bit less fruit but it’s not too bad. There’s still a lot of generous people out there.” 

The owners of orchard property picked on Friday have had the charity come out for years, stating they’d rather donate their fruits than try to sell them for the little they’d make. 

“It’s also not just about picking fruit, It’s about developing community, the harvests are available for anyone who wants to.” Schutz said. “There’s opportunity to not just pick fruit and give it away but also to meet new people, become friends with people, we’re really trying to develop community as much as we’re trying to develop food security.” 

Schutz has seen kids as young as three come out and help pick in the orchard, families with babies, and seniors citizens of all ages getting involved. 

“It’s making use of the fruit in the Okanagan that may not otherwise get used...It’s a very worthy cause.”

The pickers will come out whether it’s one tree in a backyard or a sizeable orchard. 

“We deliver it to schools, daycares, food banks, senior centres, all kinds of different places.” 

This year it's been a little bit different; they're focusing on maintaining the physical distance and keeping their volunteers safe. 

“When we’re outside and in an orchard it’s a little bit easier to do that,” Schutz said. 

The fruit picking hasn't been taking longer with the changes, but organizing the picks takes a bit more time since the group is restricting numbers of how many people can attend. 

But the group is still looking for more people to join up and help them gleam out the rest of the fruit for the season. 

“We’ll pick as long as the weather holds out and there’s fruit to pick.” 

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