Seattle is home to thousands of fruit trees, and we love to have support caring for them! If you’re interested in getting involved and learning how to care for our local fruit system, or simply want to learn more about tree care and our local orchard spaces, City Fruit has many opportunities for volunteers to support our fruit trees and learn different forms of tree stewardship throughout the year.
Pruning consists of trimming down branches so that the tree is able to let more light into the other branches so that they can grow stronger and support healthier fruit. It also is important to prune off any decayed, diseased, or deformed branches to support the overall health of the tree. We host many pruning sessions throughout the winter and spring, and some in the summer just before fruitlets start to form into fruit. For folks wanting to learn more about how to prune their own fruit tree, this is a great opportunity to learn! Pruning events are held outside in different kinds of weather, and volunteers should be open to using pruners and loppers and possibly climbing ladders.
Come spring time, thinning, netting and bagging become super important for guaranteeing the growth of healthy fruit. Pests and disease, such as apple maggot fly and codling moth which mainly affect apples in the area, are extremely damaging to the quality of fruit and therefore prevent the fruit we harvest from being able to be redirected to our food banks and meal program partners. By helping us with organic methods of pest management, volunteers can learn about these pests and diseases and help protect fruitlets for later enjoyment as part of our healthy food system!
And of course, during the summer months we always need extra hands to help harvest at our partner orchard sites. Unico Longacres Orchard in Renton and McAuliffe Park in Kirkland are some of our biggest sites that require many hands, but there are plenty of other sites that volunteers have the opportunity to harvest at throughout the season, depending on the specific orchard’s need! Some smaller public sites where we harvest in August include Dr. Jose Rizal, Linden Park, and Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, and in September, Good Shepherd Center and Piper’s. All of this help allows us to divert fruit that would otherwise fall and go to waste, to our partners that ensure it is connected to community members in need. For those who enjoy harvesting independently or with just one other partner in a more flexible situation that can accommodate your situation, consider our Neighborhood Ambassadors program!
Outside of stewarding existing trees in the community, City Fruit has planted 3 orchards around Seattle, and has plans to continue expanding around the city. Site preparation and tree plantings are great ways that volunteers can become connected to a space, and be a part of the work that it takes to connect residents to a local food resource that they can steward and utilize for years afterwards. Keep an eye out in the coming months for orchard planting opportunities that are scheduled for late fall and winter!
This year, we expect to have many more food diversion volunteer events that will include everything from sorting fruit to preparing jams, baked goods, and more. Fruit that is unable to be directed to food banks and meal programs is generally made into into jams,jellies, and baked goods, and we need volunteers to sort fruit and freeze fruit as well as jam or bake them! We’ve hosted many jamming sessions with volunteers, and have held some baking events with community and corporate partners. This is a great way for volunteers to get a look into our diversion efforts and how we handle fruit that is inedible off the tree, and helps us honor our goal of being as zero-waste as possible while sharing food products with neighbors year-round.
We aim to offer as many opportunities for volunteers to get involved in any capacity they can, and are always so excited to welcome first-timers and repeat participants! If you haven’t already, check out our events page and time counts page to be up to date on upcoming opportunities for volunteering. The support we receive from volunteers is how we are able to continue serving our community and connect residents to our local food system, and to ensure that our fruit trees are cared for and supported in the best ways possible. We are always so grateful to our volunteers who show up for us in any ways they can, as their dedication allows us to keep doing what we do.