The harvest season is wrapping up and what a ride it has been! We are nearing 35,000 pounds of fruit harvested for the season (and will definitely get there with a persimmon tree or two still left to pick!). It has been another record-breaking year in terms of total pounds harvested. Last year we picked just over 29,000 lbs of produce. I want to first thank Dustin Towler (City Fruit’s lead harvester in West Seattle), Yvonne Socolar (CF’s lead in North Seattle), Sam Maylor (our summer harvest intern) and all of our volunteers from the spring and summer who helped steward and harvest trees from all over the city! Of course, thank you to all of our tree owners whose generosity makes what we do during the summer possible.
This year was much different from my first year managing the harvest. Due to the early spring and summer heat wave we experienced, this led to both some unexpected challenges as well as benefits. The year started off a bit chaotic with three different types of plums coming on at almost the exact same time (instead of a few weeks of staggering) and because of the heat, offering a much shorter time-span in which fruit could be harvested before getting overripe. However, the heat proved to be integral in our overall success this year as our European Pear harvest increased from 285 lbs in 2014 to 4095 lbs in 2015! The warm weather also assisted in two never-previously-harvested fruits being picked by City Fruit this year. On July 1st, we picked 80 pounds of loquats - a fruit native to central China but now most commonly associated with El Dia de los Muertos as an offering to the spirits of the deceased. To bookend the harvest, on October 26th we picked 25 pounds of Kiwis. The addition of these two fruits means we harvested 15 distinctly different types of fruits this season (not to mention all the various cultivars of each!) from cherries and plums in the summer, figs and pears in August and September, to persimmons, quince, and kiwis in mid-fall.
The 2015 harvest season has been an absolute success. To see City Fruit continue to grow its harvesting capabilities while also seeing a multitude of ways in which we can improve our methods and serve more of our neighbors makes me already excited for the 2016 harvest season. Until then, there’s plenty of stewarding to be done to support our city’s unique natural resource: a thriving urban fruit canopy.