Another Kind of Fruit Loop

Alameda Patch

Alameda Backyard Growers take quickie census of island fruit trees with surprising results

Twenty five people converged on March 10 with one mission in mind – to find Alameda’s hidden treasure trove of fruit trees.

Now, Alameda Backyard Growers, which sponsored the , is reporting their findings. Their results may amaze you.

The volunteers divided up into nine teams and scoured distinct areas of the Island. During a 90-minute trek around Alameda on foot, bikes and cars the searchers located 356 fruit trees.

Virtually all found and identified were citrus trees – orange, lemon and grapefruit – and organizers hope to now make contact with the tree owners and see if they will consider sharing their harvest with Alamedans in need.

Volunteers from Alameda Backyard Growers and other garden produce from local homeowners and donating it to the . So far they have donated hundreds of pounds of produce, mostly fruit, and are hoping to boost that amount in the coming year.

Currently about one in 13 residents on the Island relies upon the Alameda Food Bank for help. The food bank was founded in 1977 and exclusively serves Alameda residents in need.

“If your patio is covered in fruit or you are fighting the squirrels it makes sense to let our volunteers glean your trees and let the food go to people who will be able to use it,” said Amanda MacLean, one of the organizers of the fruit gleaning program.
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She said, for example, a 20-foot fruit tree can produce as much as 100 pounds of fruit, far more than most people can use for their own families.

The tree census this month was so successful MacLean says the Alameda Backyard Growers will conduct another one probably in June and try to identify fruits bearing summer harvests of plums, peaches and similar fruit around town. The volunteers do not enter homeowners’ properties, but look for trees visible in front yards and extending over and above backyard fences.

A list of addresses where the fruit trees were found on March 10 has been compiled and put into a spreadsheet (only to be used internally by the backyard grower group). The organization will soon be contacting those people with fruit trees in their yards and giving them a postcard which outlines the fruit gleaning program and the good their donations of fruit could do in the community. “We will invite them to be part of our fruit gleaning program,” said MacLean.

Jill Saxty, an Alameda Backyard Gardener volunteer and the owner of First Flight Designs, created the eye-catching postcard which MacLean hopes will capture fruit tree owners’ attention.

The searchers were also helped during their canvassing by on Park Street that donated coffee to “fuel” the group on its jaunt around the Island.

The Alameda Backyard Growers has blossomed, according to MacLean. She said it now has 350 participants and its gatherings are often attended by 50 people. She said its monthly meetings are open to anyone in Alameda and it welcomes new members.

If you would like to learn more about the fruit gleaning program because you have fruit to donate, would like to take part in the June survey of fruit trees in Alameda or want to know about Alameda Backyard Growers in general, you can visit its website here or call 510-239-PICK.

Read the original article on the Alameda Patch here.