Picking apples isn’t just the perfect autumn activity.
A local orchard offers the opportunity not only for students to give back to the community, but also to themselves. While students can keep a portion of the apples they pick and can take home wood from the orchard to burn in their fireplaces, some of the apples picked go to a charitable cause.
“The apples go to the local food bank to provide fresh fruit to those who need it,” said Alexander Gray, a social work master’s student from Hermiston, Ore.
- Moriah Smith and Tammy Valdes inspect insects that have been caught in tree wrap at a local orchard..
The orchard has more than 1,400 red delicious apple trees. It took more than a year to get the orchard ready to produce usable fruit. Last year over 3,000 pounds of apples were donated to the Utah County Food Bank from an orchard that had previously gone unused.
“Fresh fruit does make a difference,” said Myla Dutton, executive director of Community Action Services and Food Bank. “It does not go to waste. Fresh fruits and vegetables are more costly than canned foods but are also more nutritious. It’s great that volunteers are willing to do this for families in need.”
The fresh food helps those in need to be increasingly self-sustaining.
“It is pure enjoyment watching people become more self-sufficient and also to see the kindness shown by so many to help give a hand up to others who might be struggling,” said a representative of Utah County Gleaning on thumbtack.com.
The project is also of benefit to volunteers.
“When people pick fruit, it is an immediate reward,” Dutton said.
Pruning equipment is provided, but volunteers should bring their own gloves.
Students are also encouraged to participate in canning and dehydration classes to help preserve food and keep any from going to waste.
The orchard is located at the Utah State Hospital. It was founded as a means for the hospital to be self-sufficient and as a form of therapy for the patients, though the hospital no longer uses the orchard because of laws prohibiting mandatory physical labor for wards of the hospital.
Although some students might find the location disconcerting, some who have volunteered disagree.
“I don’t think it’s creepy at all. You wouldn’t even know you were near there,” said Joshua Olsen a senior philosophy major from Manassas, Va. “It’s always been fun. They let you go at your own pace, and they are really fun.”
In the spring, the group looks for volunteers to help prune and fertilize the orchard.
The orchard accepts volunteers during daylight hours Monday through Saturday. They are always looking for help.