The annual project to harvest excess fruit from backyard orchards around Langley has a problem – plenty of volunteer pickers, not enough fruit trees.
Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) is looking for more people with fruit trees who are willing to participate in a program that donates what they can’t use to local agencies that help feed people in need.
“This is the year fruit should be doing well,” said Amanda Smith, agricultural programs coordinator for LEPS.
After the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic and a couple of years of bad weather that limited harvests, things are shaping up nicely this year for cherries, plums, apples, and pears around Langley. It’s neither too hot or too cold so far, Smith said.
Cherries are already ripening and should be ready to pick soon, while apples, pears, and plums are on track to ripen later through the summer.
For years, the Community Harvest program has seen LEPS organize groups of volunteers to match up with the owners of local fruit trees. The volunteers would show up with ladders and picking gear and harvest the fruit, and then the program would divide it up.
Up to one third goes to the owners of the trees, one third to the volunteers to pick it, and the remaining third goes to local food banks. The Langley Food Bank, Sources Food Bank, and Meals on Wheels all receive some of the bounty. Meals on Wheels uses it for their Spoons on Fire program, which creates jams and jellies for the group’s social enterprise, working out of the former firehall in Aldergrove.
Now it’s a matter of finding more fruit.
Many of the people who once signed up to donate the produce of their backyard fruit trees have moved and sold their properties over the last few years, said Smith.
As people move, the new owners are unfamiliar with the program.
“It’s like every five year period, we have to start from scratch,” said Smith.
So she’s asking anyone with healthy fruit trees in their yards, and no idea what to do with possibly hundreds of pounds of fruit, to sign up.
The best way to join the program is to contact Smith at LEPS, by email at email@example.com, or by phone at 604-546-0337.
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