On Saturday, September 27th, City Fruit and 30 volunteers took to the Amy Yee Tennis Center orchard, whose trees were ripe for the fall harvest. The occasion served to commemorate National Public Lands Day (NPLD), a day of public service that began twenty years ago with 700 volunteers at three sites. Since then, it has grown into an annual event with over 175,000 volunteers in all 50 states. The essence of the day has remained unchanged – folks coming together to work the land and participate in the shared stewardship of our natural resources. In the spirit of NPLD, City Fruit staff and an eclectic group of volunteers converged on Amy Yee to pick and sort fruit and remove invasive vegetation.
Mark Miller, who plays tennis at Amy Yee, teaches an art class to students who attend Derech Emunah, an all-girls Jewish High School in Seattle. In need of materials to craft a roof for the temporary shelter his students were constructing to commemorate the Sukkot holiday, Mr. Miller came to remove invasive knotweed. It would make a perfect roof for the shelter, he explained, and be able to withstand traditional Seattle weather (read: rain).
Others, like first-time volunteer Valerie Kimbrough, a member of BECU, had heard about the volunteer harvest opportunity via the credit union’s newsletter (City Fruit is the recipient of a BECU People Helping People Award). Valerie is a firm believer in putting food to good use, and couldn’t have been happier to lend a helping hand.
And then there were the standard bearers, like City Fruit Ambassador Ellen Booth. Ellen had been looking for volunteer opportunities around urban food supplies, which led her to City Fruit. A passionate advocate for feeding the hungry, Ellen sees Seattle’s abundance of fruit as an opportunity to put a public resource to work, and she’s made it her mission to attend as many food gatherings, fairs, and markets as possible around Seattle to educate folks and spread the word about City Fruit.
As a whole, the group was delighted to discover that the valiant efforts of our summer volunteers to encase apple buds in protective bags to ward off pests had largely been successful. Hundreds of pristine, unspoiled apples without the telltale signs of damage from apple maggot and codling moth filled the bins marked for donation. All told, volunteers were able to pick upwards of 600 pounds of apples, of which 230 was donated to ACRS Food Bank. As a reward for their hard work, volunteers were treated to fresh cider courtesy of City Fruit’s manual cider press.
This week is City Fruit’s “Harvest Celebration Week,” and we want to thank all of the dedicated volunteers who have helped City Fruit maintain Seattle’s urban orchards. Join us this Saturday, October 11 at Jefferson Park from 3-5 PM for a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic, where there will be good food, plentiful cider, and fun outdoor games to play. We look forward to celebrating our most successful harvest ever (over 21,000 pounds and counting!) with those in the community who helped make it possible, and to continuing the valuable NPLD tradition of shared responsibility for the bounty that Seattle’s urban orchard provides.