As part of our #nowastewednesday blog series, we will be discussing a variety of food waste issues throughout the food chain: from consumers and restaurants, to distributers and growers. This is the time of year when tree owners can be proactive about encouraging healthy fruit growth by protecting their own fruit, so we will talk today about food waste in residential fruit growth.
In 2014, City Fruit composted over 12,000 pounds of fruit during the harvest season. That’s about 50,000 individual apples and pears! Whether that fruit had fallen off the tree prematurely or had been picked but did not meet a high enough standard to donate, the culprit was almost always either coddling moth or apple maggot pest damage. These two pests unfortunately affect almost all apple and many thin-skinned Asian Pear varieties that grow in Washington (see the Pest and Pest Prevention Blog from last week for more information on these two particular pests).
Last year, in collaboration with Seattle Public Utilities and many other gracious sponsors, City Fruit launched the first Save Seattle’s Apples campaign. This effort was intended to provide the education and materials necessary for tree owners to protect their produce from pest infestations. Thanks to this effort (as well as an emphasis on secondary uses, which I’ll discuss in a later blog), last year we only had to compost about 3,000 pounds of fruit. That’s 9,000 pounds of food waste we were able to divert from our landfills simply with a little effort in protecting the city’s fruit trees from pests.
In our second year of the Save Seattle’s Apples campaign, we are once again providing tree owners with the pest prevention packs necessary to care for their fruit as well as assistance for those who may need it. These packs simply consist of compostable, food grade baggies that place a physical barrier over your produce, and twist ties to secure the baggies to the tree. You can pick the packs up for free at a number of participating locations throughout the city.
Here are the instructions for how to place on the baggies:
1.The first key to bagging is actually to thin each bunch of fruit growth. Pinch off all of the apples/pears in a bunch but one, leaving only the largest piece of fruit to grow. By thinning your tree fruit, you allow the tree to concentrate its energy on the remaining fruit. It also helps encourage a more consistent yeild from each year, rather than having your tree go in cycles of over/under production. Give 6-8 inches of space between each piece of fruit.
2. Place the baggie over a single piece of fruit and pinch down on the opening of the bag.
3. Take a single twist tie and secure the bag tightly to the branch of the tree. Take your time to make sure the baggie is secured.
4.(Optional come fall) While having a baggie over your fruit will in no way affect the health or taste of your fruit, the baggie does block some sunlight, which will make the coloration of your fruit a little less vibrant. You may take your baggies off about two weeks before harvesting to acheive a deeper color.
Come back next week for another installment of our #nowastewednesdays blog series!
The blog series as well as a number of City Fruit food waste reduction classes are made possible by Seattle Public Utilities.