Italian plum harvest with the International Rescue Committee

Earlier this week, a small crew from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) joined the City Fruit harvesters Luke and Asya at the home of a tree owner in West Seattle. After briefly going over the plans with the help from the IRC staff who pulled double duty as translators, we made our way to the backyard where we were greeted by the 11 Italian plum trees full of beautiful, jewel-toned fruit waiting to be picked. From this point on, no translation was necessary. The mission was clear. To harvest as many ripe Italian plums as possible!

The IRC harvesters quickly dispersed, picked their spot and weapon of choice (a picker, ladder, and/or a backpack to put fruit in) and the harvest was in progress. It became clear right away that some of them had been around fruit trees before. One of the IRC harvesters climbed the ladder and then up the tree without hesitation, and the crates started to fill up.

It was a perfect morning for a harvest. Not too chilly, not too warm, and even blue skies made an appearance after being blocked by the smoke for almost 2 weeks! The Italian plums were at a perfect stage of ripeness where a “shake-and-pick” method could be deployed without damaging the fruit. So we took turns and climbed the trees, gently shook the branches until the plums fell. Just don’t forget to warn those on the ground to watch out for the falling fruit! We were joined by the tree owner Julianne for a good portion of the morning and in a few short hours harvested nearly 400 pounds of Italian plums.

Of course we snacked on juicy, ripe Italian plums throughout the morning and once again, no words were necessary. I asked, “Good?” and the answer from the IRC harvester was a big smile and a thumb up.
The IRC is an organization that provides critical services and support to refugees, immigrants, and survivors of human trafficking who are rebuilding their lives in our community. This year City Fruit is partnering with the IRC as part of the Harvest for All expansion campaign that includes select South King County communities. Through this partnership City Fruit trains the IRC members who will eventually become the primary harvesters in South King County while City Fruit will continue to manage tree owner outreach, tree registrations and data management. For their service the harvested fruit will be donated back to the IRC members and they will get to decide how the fruit will be used.
This week’s harvest once again reminded us that sharing the fruit, and the experience of harvesting fruit, allows us to make a meaningful connection with each other, including the newest members of our community. We just wonder, what did they decide to do with all those plums?!
Learn more about City Fruit’s partnership with the IRC HERE.