This past summer, City Fruit harvested more fruit than we have in the last 5 years of operation, with a record breaking number of 44,829 pounds! Reaching this milestone has come with many trials and tribulations, from staff injuries, leadership changes, and just an overall bumper crop of fruit. Harvesting thousands of pounds of fruit within a 4-month period with so many moving parts is no easy feat, but with a supportive team of full-time staff, seasonal harvesters and interns, volunteers, and dedicated community members, we were able to harvest from 529 homes and 12 public orchards across Seattle, all of which contributed to sharing locally grown and harvested fruit with our community.
With the warm spring and summer we had this year as compared to 2022, this year’s fruit crop was plentiful to say the very least. We harvested nearly 26,000 lbs of apples, and over 9,000 lbs of plums. Compared to 2022, that is almost 2,000 lbs more apples and nearly 6,000 lbs more plums! Needless to say, our harvest team was busy keeping up with all of the fruit coming in to be able to share the bounty!
In 2023, we also received a grant from the Boeing Employee Community Fund to purchase our new staff truck – Chip! He has already helped out with many harvest events and planting projects, let alone his main gig – tree care! We could not be more grateful to Boeing for the generous support. With this new truck, we were able to further our fruit tree stewardship efforts across the city by no longer needing to split vehicle use between programs, therefore expanding our harvest capacity by allowing our staff to take on more trees and thus, more fruit! We’d also like to extend our deepest gratitude to The Goode Foundation, Kroger Co. Foundation, Norcliffe Foundation, and many others for their support of our harvest program this year.
Out of the 45,000 lbs of fruit harvested this summer, we harvested 14 different varieties of fruit, ranging from apple, plum, asian pear, european pear, crab apple, persimmon, kiwi, grape, quince, blueberry, fig, peach, cherry, and apricot. Many of these fruits were distributed for free to community members at 19 of our weekly “Fruit-For-All” events , and to 33 of our community partner organizations around Seattle. We’d like to give a special shoutout to the new organizations we added to our list this year – Black Star Farmers, Food Lifeline of WA, Kawabe Memorial House, Lifelong Chicken Soup Brigade Food Bank, Meadowbrook Community Center, Senior Center of West Seattle, Shoreline Lake Forest Park Senior Center, and Subvert UD. Thank you so much for your support, and we’re so glad that we got to share fruit with your community!
We served a total of 1,429 people at our Fruit-For-All’s this year, which were hosted at a variety of community centers, farmers markets, and P-Patches around the city including Angel Morgan P-Patch, Ballard Community Center, Bellevue Library, Bitterlake Community Center, Danny Woo P-Patch & Community Garden, Delridge Farmers Market, Garfield Community Center, High Point Drive, Meadowbrook Community Center, North Seattle Family Resource Center, Phinney Neighborhood Association, South Park Community Center, University Heights Center, Van Asselt Community Center. Thank you so much to all of our community partners for providing a space for fruit to be redistributed!
It can’t be ignored that most of our work over the harvest season is made possible through the hard work and dedication of numerous interns, seasonal staff, and volunteers. Harvest responsibilities include fruit processing, harvesting from our registered tree owners, tabling at our Fruit-For-All’s and community events, and more. This summer, we hosted 5 interns from TIPS (Teens In Public Service), AmeriCorps’ Harvest Against Hunger Summer Associate program, and the UW’s Program of the Environment Capstone Internship. We were also joined by 4 seasonal harvesters that helped with harvest necessities. We’re so grateful for the help received from Chloe Russell (TIPS), Avery Carroll and Liv Michaels (AmeriCorps), Ezra Thomason and Rachel Ellingwood (UW), Ozi Goldstein (Seasonal), Hannah Whobrey (Seasonal), Abbie Lukowicz (Seasonal), and Isaac Weber (Seasonal). With such a demanding harvest season, we truly could not have done this work without you all.
With thousands of pounds of fruit coming into our office and going to food banks, it’s one of our top priorities to ensure that the fruit is being cared for and delivered properly. Our harvest team spends many hours washing donated clamshell containers so that softer fruits (plums, berries, figs, grapes, cherries) can be packaged and transported easily to prevent bruising. Packaging the fruit also takes out a huge step for our food banks and meal program partners, who are already working hard to distribute food. For many years, we’ve taken donated clamshells from community members looking to repurpose their food containers instead of recycling them, and for the past two years we have received numerous donations from Ridwell, whose mission is to educate and provide options to people for where to responsibly dispose of their waste! We’re so grateful for their support, as it allows us to properly package and distribute the fruit that we harvest.
With over 230 volunteers this harvest season, we successfully harvested from 13 public orchards around Seattle at 16 different volunteer events! This work helps us maintain the health of public fruit trees in the city while also maintaining our mission of connecting individuals with locally grown fruit, which would otherwise go to waste. With such a plentiful fruit canopy in Seattle and so many individuals struggling to bring food to the table due to rising inflation rates, the work of our volunteers and community partners in bridging that gap is truly invaluable. Thank you so much to McAuliffe Park, Piper’s Orchard, Marra Farms, Holy Cross Orchard, Danny Woo P-Patch, Highline Botanical Garden, Longacres Orchard, Good Shepherd Center, Kirke Park, City Soil, Jose Rizal Orchard, and Linden Orchard for partnering with us to achieve this goal.
Once again, thank you to all of our tree owners, volunteers, and community partners for an extremely successful and bountiful harvest season. Without your support, our work would not be possible! Stay tuned for updates for our 2024 harvest season coming soon.