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The Big Citrus Harvest

What Every Fruit Donor Should Know
About The Big Citrus Harvest on February 3, 2018.


On Saturday, February 3rd, 2018, more than 175 volunteers form The Urban Farmers will fan out across the county to help harvest backyard fruit from fruit donors such as yourself who have registered their fruit tree with us. (Thank you for your donation and generosity.)

If you are familiar with our work, this is NOT a typical harvest. Please read the post below, and if our plans do not meet your expectations, please let us know, so we don’t send volunteers to your home.

Our mission
We operate a low cost, community-based, environmentally sustainable project to address the social justice needs of our communities.

As a community focused project, we balance the needs of the people (such as hunger relief) and the planet (such as our carbon footprint) carefully, and our decisions are a balancing act between these priorities.

The problem
During the citrus season, we experience an abundance of fruit. Actually, abundance doesn’t begin to describe it. The fruit riches we have in this community staggers everyone and reminds us why we do what we do.

Current Method
Currently, we organize weekend harvests where a harvest leader along with a team of volunteers use our harvest van and visit 3 to 5 homes, harvesting between 800 to 1,200 pounds of fruit in a three-hour shift.

Bigger Problem
We now have 300+ citrus trees registered in Contra Costa County alone. The current method of harvesting three homes per harvest day no longer works. Add the fact that harvesting citrus is a labor-intensive effort and the problem exasperates.

Mindless Solution
Harvests are impacted by factors such as the weather, availability of volunteers, availability of the harvest van, etc. As such we can not guarantee that we WILL harvest anyone’s fruit.

The blunt and mindless solution to the problem of “a lot of citrus trees” is to tell the many fruit donors that we are over capacity and will not be able to harvest their fruit.

New Solution
Last year we tested a new idea. It did not work perfectly yet we harvested several thousand pounds of fruit. We have learned from last year’s experiment, and this is our new plan.

On the Big Citrus Harvest Day (Saturday, February 3rd) twelve or more harvest leaders will direct more than 175 volunteers to harvest neighborhood trees. To minimize driving time, and maximize harvest time, the teams will start at three different locations in Danville, Walnut Creek, and Concord.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano will deliver large fruit collection boxes (1,000 pounds containers) to each of the above starting locations.

Teams will harvest the fruit, place it in small crates and bring it back to the starting location. Fruit from the small crates will be loaded into the collection boxes, ready for pick up by the Food Bank.

The Enemy of the Good
The perfect harvest of an often unpruned citrus tree requires tall ladders. We do not have enough ladders to outfit 12 teams, besides using ladders is a cumbersome process that slows down the harvest. Instead, volunteers will harvest what fruit they can reach by hand or with picking poles (about 15 feet above ground) and then move on to the next house.

The implication is worth stating directly: if your tree is tall, the high fruit will be left behind.

Yes, the thrifty souls in all of us object to a single piece of fruit wasted. This harvest will have an imperfect outcome so remember what we accomplish is more than if we did nothing at all.

If our idea of a solution does not match your harvest vision or desires, please contact us so we can remove your tree from our list. We don’t want to disappoint anyone with our big harvest model!

Likewise, if you know your tree’s fruit is out of reach or doesn’t have enough fruit to make it worth the trip, please let us know so we can concentrate our limited time and volunteer resources to productive outcomes.

Self Harvest
If you prefer to harvest your fruit and need help with delivery, we will have containers in your neighborhood (on Saturday February 3rd) and you are welcome to deliver your fruit for pick up by the Food Bank. Please send an email indicating your preferred drop off city (Danville, Walnut Creek or Concord) and we will send you the drop-off address.

If you prefer to harvest your fruit after Saturday and need to take it to hunger relief partner that can get your fruit out, here are two options:

White Pony Express
3380 Vincent Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano
4010 Nelson Avenue
Concord, CA 94520

Since we are a community-driven project if you have thoughts or ideas to improve our work we’d love to hear from you.