The harvest season is the busiest time of the year for City Fruit. From the first ripening plums and cherries in June, to the last apples and persimmons in November, the fruiting season requires all hands on deck!
With support from City of Seattle’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and Harvest Against Hunger’s AmeriCorps Summer Associates program, City Fruit had the opportunity to work alongside many passionate individuals during the 2021 harvest season. However, last year’s harvest of over 37,000 pounds of fruit also wouldn’t have been possible without our dedicated community volunteers, including our team of Neighborhood Ambassadors.
Last year, Neighborhood Ambassadors Jaime, Olivia, Shannon, Meredith, and Jennifer helped us reach additional residential harvests in Ravenna, Ballard, Capitol Hill, University District, and Lake City. Sometimes independently, and sometimes with other members of our harvest team, they harvested altogether over hundreds of pounds of fruit including varieties such as Italian plums, greengage plums, fig, champagne grapes, Akane apples, golden delicious apples, McIntosh apples, and European and Asian pears.
In addition to helping with the harvest, Neighborhood Ambassadors Jaime and Jennifer also supported our endeavors to make sure that all fruit could be put to its best and fullest use. In particular, around peak harvest season in August, we noticed that some food banks were reaching their cold storage capacity and were unable to accept more of certain fruits like apples and plums. In response, City Fruit, with the help of volunteers like Jaime and Jennifer, started to look for ways to process excess or buggy fruit into shelf-stable products that could be shared with community members and food banks. With her previous experience working for a jam company, Jaime helped us trial-run crabapple jelly and plum jam. Her early support and guidance helped us see fruit dehydrating and jam-making as a possible fruit diversion avenue, and we are now currently exploring fruit processing options at a larger scale with grant support.
Neighborhood Ambassador Jennifer lent her support with harvest, but also fruit processing prep, volunteering hours of her time over the season to help us de-pit and cut up plums and buggy Asian pears and apples for future use in a food dehydrator or jam-making session. Jennifer’s support is why we now have Fruit Processing volunteer opportunities scheduled this August and September!
As we begin preparations for the 2022 harvest season, we invite interested individuals to join our harvest team as Neighborhood Ambassadors! In particular, we would love support with our South and West Seattle harvests and are seeking interested community members that live in these regions of the city. We also welcome Neighborhood Ambassadors that would like to split their time between harvest and fruit packaging/processing. For more information, please view our volunteer position description or contact Tiare at [email protected]!