The trees may now be bare, but the Sunshine Coast Fruit Tree Project is gearing up for the next growing season, trying to put together an inventory of what trees need attention and who can help harvest.
The project seeks to better the community through picking and distributing the abundance of fruit grown here on the Coast, making sure those in need get a portion of the pick.
Last year through the project, volunteer pickers harvested a total of 1,250 kilograms (2,785 pounds)of fresh fruit picked at 25 locations from Gibsons to Halfmoon Bay.
Just over 450 kg of that was donated to local food banks and the Bellies and Babies program.
All fruit harvested was split between the homeowners who called for assistance, the volunteer pickers who lent a hand and local organizations in need.
In addition to harvesting and distributing the fruit, the project aims to increase knowledge and skills around harvesting, canning and preserving.
The Roberts Creek Fall Faire provided an excellent opportunity in 2012. There about 110 kg of apples picked were used in an apple press demonstration.
“The juice pressing was fun, the juice was delicious and the fundraiser earned $115 for the project,” 2012 project coordinator Katy Latham said.
She also sold a portion of the golden plums and apples picked at her farm gate stand during August and September, raising another $75 for the project.
Any money raised, in addition to the $25 annual membership fee people pay to get involved is used to help top up the coordinator’s modest salary of $1,500 a year.
Eleonora Molnar of Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said more funding is needed to hire a project coordinator this year.
“We are asking One Straw Society if they would like to take on the project, as they have core funding,” she noted, adding the program is in limbo until the coordinator’s salary can be found.
Originally the One Straw Society and VCH partnered to create the program, which has been funded by grants and donations from the Rotary Club of Sechelt, the One Straw Society, the Community Food Action Initiative and the Sunshine Coast Credit Union.
Molnar is optimistic more funding will be found before this year’s harvesting season starts in July. She encourages people to sign up online at http://scfruittree.org if they want to have trees picked or become a volunteer picker in 2013. She also encourages groups interested in funding the program to call her at 604-886-5603.