Volunteers to pick a peck of fruit for community

Fruit Tree Project provides much-needed help in harvesting fruit

The Sooke Region Food Community Health Initiative (CHI) is in need of more volunteers for it’s annual Fruit Tree Project.

The project, which provides a fruit tree picking service to the community, is looking for more volunteers to help in any capacity they can.

“If somebody doesn’t have the ability to be physically involved, there are other things they can do,” said Erika Rolston, project co-ordinator.

“There’s lots of ways people can get involved, they just have to give us a call and we’ll find out how to work with them.”

She provided the example of one volunteer who loaned a Suburban truck to transport equipment and  ladders to job sites.

“There’s all different ways you can contribute, and we’re really good at finding the right fit.”

About 20 volunteers have already begun to glean fruit off trees in the community, harvesting a cumulative amount of about 550 pounds from just two harvests two weeks ago.

Currently, volunteers are going out to properties, occupied and unoccupied, on Wednesdays and Sundays to remove ripe fruit. Hours vary depending on the size of the tree and amount of fruit.

Fruit removed from the trees will be divided between the property owner and volunteers. Remaining fruit will be donated to community groups like the Sooke Food Bank, senior’s housing, church meal programs, and transition house program.

“Our concern from Food CHI, our main priority, is to ensure food’s not going to waste,” Rolston said.

According to Rolston, the project is also supported by the local Bear Aware program to help reduce the incidence of human and bear interactions.

“If a bear gets used to getting fruit… it will always come back to the region,” Rolston said. “(The project) is in the bear’s best interest and in the people’s best interest.”

Volunteers will be harvesting fruit until October.

To participate in the 2012 Fruit Tree Project, contact Food CHI at info@sookefoodchi.ca