This year we brought in 10,017 pounds of unused fruit from residential properties in south Seattle/Beacon Hill, West Seattle and the Phinney-Greenwood neighborhoods. We donated most of it to food banks and meals programs and sold a portion of it to restaurants and others.
Apples – 3245 pounds; Plums – 2612 pounds; Aisan pears – 2303 pounds; Euro Pears – 505 pounds; Grapes – 528 pounds (that’s a lot of grapes!); Crabapples – 419 pounds; Figs – 400 pounds. We held 155 harvest events — this despite the fact that fruit production in Seattle was very low this year. There were few Italian plums (our most important crop), and some orchards had no apples at all.
City Fruit is somewhat unique in that we pay harvesters a living wage to harvest fruit (instead of relying on volunteers). Our total costs (administration + harvest labor) came to just under $1.00/lb of fruit harvested. While we continually work to bring down this number, the fact remains that it’s expensive to harvest urban fruit: trees don’t grow in convenient rows, like they do in orchards, and many are neglected and overgrown.
We continue to sell fruit in order to create a sustainable harvest model. This year we generated enough revenue to underwrite a third of our harvest costs by selling 15% of our fruit. Much of this — e.g., figs and crabapples — is not appropriate for donation. Our customers include some of the best restaurants in Seattle in addition to individuals, day care centers and Seattle Tilth’s Good Food Bags and CSA.