Do you have an apple tree?
If not, your neighbor may have an apple tree, or maybe there’s one down the way near the community park? I’m sure you can spot one, especially in late summer and fall when their branches are drooping, heavy with fruit. In fact, once you start looking you might find they’re everywhere.
Most neighborhoods and communities are filled with fruit trees: plum, pear, loquat, persimmon, pomegranate, fig, lemon and more. So what do we do with all these trees and what happens to all of the fruit? With luck and a little know-how, some are grazed, harvested, preserved or shared. However, as you may have guessed, there’s also a huge percent that goes unharvested. It’s food for wildlife and rats or it simply decomposes, feeding the soil.
I was raised in a no-waste, no-fuss family where, with a little effort we could make much of what we needed. If we couldn’t find a way to use surplus pears or apples, we preserved some and passed the rest along. We celebrated seasons with food — taking time to plant and harvest together and to also cook and eat together. Summer was for berries and and stone fruits and fall meant apples. Harvesting the winter apples was something I have always looked forward to. We’d march out, each of us carrying a bucket or picker my grandfather made with an old coffee can and broom pole, and run all the way to the orchard to stay warm. Eventually we’d march back carrying buckets between two people to divide the load, tired from climbing and chasing runaway apples.
Community Squeeze was born from the notion that the abundance on hand, the fruit trees that are everywhere, are a cause for celebration. With a little ingenuity, we can make something great out of something that might otherwise be wasted. What we can’t use we pass along to friends and neighbors or people in need. If apples aren’t fit for eating then let’s make cider!
Our first Community Squeeze event is Saturday, Sept. 24th in my little valley. We’ve picked well over 500 lbs of apples just in a week and I’m asking local residents or anyone that would like to join to bring their own quart jar or growler and apples if you have them. Plan to jump in and learn how the press works, help grind and crush apples and together, we’ll make something wonderful — cider for you and me. Something that, in my mind, truly marks the season.
How You Can Get Involved — Take Part in Community Squeeze
- Volunteer your apple tree and have it added to a private fruit map.
- Volunteer as a harvester or organizer.
- Help find ways to deliver surplus fruit to people in need.
- Help on pressing day. We need help putting the press together and working the various stations: Wash & quality control, grinding, pressing, filling jars, and teaching others about the process and how to use the press.
- Donate dollars to the cause so we can purchase a press or two along with other supplies. We’d like to offer more Community Squeeze events and also loan out presses to other communities that would like to offer similar events.
- Contact me with questions.
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Read more in the Marin IJ: Glean, press, pass the cider