Selling Fruit: Becoming Financially Sustainable

One of the main reasons we started City Fruit was to develop ways  to become more financially sustainable, rather than depend on an ever-shrinking pool of grant money for funding

As part of that, we’re experimenting with selling a small portion of the fruit we harvest – with a goal of selling no more than 20% of the usable fruit we harvest. So far this year, we’ve harvested 5,775 lbs. of fruit and have sold 448 lbs., so about 8%.

We always talk to home owners before selling fruit from their trees, explaining that the sale of this fruit goes directly to funding the neighborhood fruit harvests next year. We aim to be as transparent as possible and so will again release an annual report early  next year detailing how much we earned from fruit sales and how much it costs to organize our harvests.


We’re specifically targeting restaurants that have a reputation for caring about and seeing the value of using local foods as much as possible.  A couple of the places we’ve been selling to are A Caprice Kitchen and Kathy Casey. A Caprice Kitchen is even Tweeting about how they’re using our fruit:

“Be sure not to miss asian pear caramel pancakes at brunch this weekend, made with ballard pears from @cityfruit !”

And Kathy Casey featured us in her late summer newsletter, writing:

“Right now it’s Jam Time! It’s that time of year again when summer fruits are in abundance (despite this crazy weather!). We’ve been hooking up with City Fruit, a cool non-profit organization that gathers excess fruits from neighborhood yards then delivers them to food banks and restaurants. We love supporting them and are donning our sexy hairnets to cook up lots of great tasty treasures, which we will feature at Kathy Casey Food Studios annual open house this December … yes, we are thinking ahead!”

A few other ways in which the restaurants we’re selling to are putting our local fruit to good use:

  • Crab apple butter
  • Apple pies
  • Escarole with Asian pears
  • Red plum tarts

So far it’s been very exciting to see how the restaurants are using the fruit. They seem to really like the quality and variety of our local fruit and the customers seem to enjoy the food as well.

Farmer’s Markets

In addition to helping fund our harvests, one of the goals of selling fruit was to serve people who are low-income but don’t go to food banks or soup kitchens. In many places throughout the city, this population doesn’t have access to low-cost, healthy, local fruit.

Seattle Green Market FarmersTo help address this, a portion of our fruit is sold to the New Holly Farm Stand and to the Clean Green Market. We sell fruit to each at a much reduced price so that they can then offer this local fruit to their customers at an affordable price.

New Holly Farm Stand is part of the Seattle Market Gardens program and most of the farmers are immigrants from South East Asia and East Africa. It’s a relatively new farmers market and operates every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. It’s at the corner of South Holly Park Drive and 40th Avenue South.

Clean Green Market was founded by Rev. Robert Jeffery (who along with City Fruit Executive Director, Gail Savina, was listed as one of Seattle Weekly’s Best of 2010), in an attempt to “supply fresh, wholesome produce to families in need in Seattle’s Central District.” The market is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays at the corner of 21st and Fir Street.

We hope that these efforts to sell a small portion of fruit, as well as our membership program, classes, and donations, will help us reduce our dependence on grants and increase our financial independence.

We’ll keep you posted on how this experiment goes.


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3 Responses to Selling Fruit: Becoming Financially Sustainable

  1. Hazel Singer says:

    Great story and explanation! Thanks

  2. Diana says:

    This is wonderful. Organizations need to figure out a reasonable sustainability plan and this sounds like a great start.

  3. Barb says:

    I know of a beautiful public crab tree in Wallingford that is covered with fruit. How do I know which restaurants might be interested?

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