This program’s goal is to provide services to homeowners who donate fruit.

January 31, 2020: The Fruit Tree Program coordinates volunteers and fruit tree owners to harvest fruit from local backyards and redistributes it through a diverse network of community partners. Building on the success of the Fruit Tree Program, LUSH Valley is excited to announce the launch of its “Prune Along Program” this season, where local tree care experts work alongside participating tree owners to teach the basics of tree care. In addition, LUSH is pleased to offer a number of fruit tree workshops to encourage and facilitate conversations around the proper care and inherent value of fruit trees in our community.

“I like to think of Comox Valley fruit trees as a shared community orchard,” says James McKerricher, Fruit Tree Program coordinator. “This orchard has trees of all ages and fruit of all flavours, providing fresh fruit for us five months a year. From the first cherries in July to the last apples in November, the valley is exceptional! Sour cherries, several varieties of Asian pear, figs, king apples, Mirabelle plums, …. the list goes on. Many of these varieties are difficult to source at local grocers but growing abundantly right here in our community. The new Fruit Tree Care Program can help us learn about these fruits, enjoy them, share them, and consider what we should be planting now for future generations.”

“The Fruit Tree Program has grown steadily since its inception nearly two decades ago,” says LUSH Valley’s Executive Director, Maurita Prato. “It now engages hundreds of volunteers to harvest thousands of pounds of fruit from backyards throughout the Comox Valley. The Prune-Along program offers an opportunity for tree stewards to ensure fruit donations are high-quality and to gain the skills to keep their trees healthy and productive. We gratefully acknowledge the Comox Valley Community Foundation for their continued support of this project.

“We strive to distribute only fruit of the highest quality,” adds Prato. “The fruit we distribute reflects our respect for our community. There is a huge demand for our ‘A’ grade fruit and, unfortunately, currently only a small percentage of our harvest meets that standard, which is what inspired this program. Trees that haven’t been pruned for several years can also be time-consuming and hazardous for volunteers to harvest, so this program would also help with that aspect.”

Each Prune Along session will be tailored to meet the needs and goals of each individual homeowner and will focus on the essentials: creating an ideal tree shape for ease of harvest, optimizing sun penetration and airflow to increase fruit quality, and pruning to promote vigour. A two-hour, one-on-one session will cost $150 and leave the homeowner prepared to maintain their tree for years to come. The program will run February through March.

As part of this project, LUSH will offer a number of workshops on fruit tree maintenance, pruning and summer grafting. “We’re seeing a real desire for this knowledge and we’re keen to facilitate this conversation for the benefit of the community,” concludes McKerricher

Interested fruit tree owners and enthusiasts should contact James at fruit@lushvalley.org or call 250-331-0152.