For 14 years, environmental organization City Fruit in Seattle, WA has addressed food insecurity by making fresh fruit available to people throughout the city. The group harvests fruit from private and public orchards and distributes it for free to food banks and meal programs, and at Fruit-for-All Farmstands at farmers markets, community gardens and community centers.
In 2022, the group launched its summer camp program, Urban Fruit Guardians, for children in grades 3-5. Environmental engineer Barbara Orchard Aragon applied for funding from Local Sparks, Arcadis’ community engagement program, to support City Fruit’s education efforts.
Arcadis provided support for materials, supplies and snacks during 10 events over the summer. More than 100 children visited orchards across the city and participated in science experiments and art activities to learn about food justice, citizen science, environmental stewardship and urban agriculture.
Barbara first connected with City Fruit several years ago. As the owner of a plum tree, she knows that a single tree can produce more fruit than a family can consume in a season. City Fruit has a program that invites residents to donate what they can’t use or have volunteers harvest the fruit onsite. The organization harvests more than 40,000 pounds of fruit per year and provides year-round orchard care to historical orchards through planting, pruning and cleanup.
They also build new orchards in redeveloped areas. But they don’t do it alone. The group actively cultivates relationships with members of the community and companies that wish to volunteer.
In July, a group of Arcadians from the Seattle office were excited to get together outside of work. They harvested over 300 pounds of fruit from a new community orchard and cleaned close to 50 pounds of fruit that had fallen to the ground, also known as windfall. The fruit was distributed to food banks and partner organizations that process slightly damaged fruit into apple sauce and cider.
Barbara plans to continue to work with City Fruit by making the volunteer day an annual event.
“They’re a really great, well-run organization that is just excelling at figuring out what they can do to support the community and make the most of its resources,” she says. “I was really happy to partner with them.”