Sooke pickers: fruit tree project

Waste not, want not

It’s autumn and that usually means that everything becomes ripe at once. If you  happen to have fruit trees it becomes urgent to pick all of the fruit before it either falls to the ground or rots.

For the past three years, the Sooke Food CHI has responded to concerns about wasted food and initiated the fruit tree project.

The project accepts requests from property owners in the Sooke region to have someone come out and pick the fruit off their trees.

“It seems like a really good idea,” says Don Moloney, one of the volunteers for the project. “I’m volunteering my time on this one, I’m taking September off.”

He said they are looking for anyone who has fruit trees that will not be picked with the fruit going to waste.

“We will come in and do the picking,” he said. “One-third of the fruit goes to the owner, one-third to the volunteer pickers and one-third to charities, like the food bank and seniors’ centres. It’s a win situation all around.”

He said the pickers come with all the equipment they need to do the job.

One of the reasons for not allowing tree fruit to go to waste is that fruit is a bear attractant. Bears will come into a yard with a fruit tree in it and climb up and eat the fruit.

“The bears get the short end of the stick,” said Moloney. “They get shot if relocation doesn’t work.”

The fruit is coming in a little later this year with the cool spring we had, said Moloney.

How do you tell when the fruit is ready to pick? Moloney said that with plums you watch the colour and when they are nice and purple  they are ready. Plums also go bad pretty quickly, so they need to be picked just as they ripen.

If you turn the apple in your hands a quarter-turn (while on the tree) it will fall into your hands when it is ready.

Moloney has fruit trees on his property and he had rented a apple press/crusher and would like to see one purchased so that others could use it for a small fee to press their own apples for cider,

“I would like to see workshops on preserving food,” he said. “Food CHI is all about not wasting food.”

When not puttering away on his own property in September, Moloney is busy organizing the livestock section of the Sooke Fall Fair (Sept. 10-11).

He said there are some changes this year which include talks on keeping backyard chickens and what they need, etc. Different speakers will inform others on issues like rare and unusual breeds, building pens, feed, etc.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, a swap and shop willtake place at the fall fair with breeders coming in to buy, sell and giveaway chickens.

The giveaways, said Moloney, are usually roosters.

“Most of them are called “Stew” but some are too special,” he said.

It is a good way to meet the different breeders and producers and to see the breeds available.

“They have a great store of information — different chickens for different reasons.”

Moloney is trying to get more livestock into the fall fair.

“The Sooke Fall Fair could really use them, it doesn’t cost much to enter and the children love them. We’re slowly trying to build it up.”

For mmore information or to get your fruit picked, call Don Moloney at 250-642-3096 or email: don_sturning@hotmail.com.