The apples are small as of yet, most of them no bigger than plums, but there are hundreds of them weighing down the branches of the tree by the path in Campbell Valley Regional Park.
Before the fall is over, the apples from the tree will find their way to food banks in Langley, as part of the Langley Community Harvest program. The program is overseen by the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS).
“I’d love to have more people donating,” said Ava Shannon, the agricultural program coordinator for LEPS.
She is also working right now
The program is simple: donors have fruit trees that they either don’t want to harvest, or which produce much more than they could ever use.
They can call in the volunteers organized by the Community Harvest, who will pick apples, plums, pears, or other fruit.
The fruit is split three ways – one third to the tree owner, one third to the pickers, and the final third is distributed to local food banks.
In practice, more than one third goes to charity, as some pickers and donors don’t keep all of their share.
The Langley Food Bank, the Langley Sources Food Bank, the Langley Seniors Resource Centre and the Gateway of Hope are all recipients of fruit from the program, said Shannon.
There is often so much to go around that some of it goes to food banks in Surrey and White Rock as well.
Last year the program harvested about 2,000 pounds of fruit.
Warm weather in early spring means that some fruits ripened a bit ahead of schedule, and the season is already underway.
Cherries have mostly been picked, said Shannon.
“Plums will be next,” she said.
Then apples begin after the plum season.
Along with fruit trees in back yards, the Community Harvest is taking advantage of the fact that many fruit trees grow in Langley’s parks.
Shannon has been mapping fruit trees in Campbell Valley Regional Park. The trees closer to the edges of the park and along trails can be accessed for the harvest.
“There’s over 100,” Shannon said.
Many of the fruit trees in the back yards and parks of Langley date back to the days when much of the community was farmland. Farm families and early suburbanites often planted a small orchard for their home use. As land use changed, many of the trees survived.
Right now, there are a good number of volunteers ready to pick fruit. However, if Shannon gets a lot of new donors to sign up, she’ll need volunteers, too.
To volunteer or donate fruit to the program, call 604-546-0337.