Do your neighbors shut off the lights and hide when they see you walking toward their house with bags of satsumas? Is your freezer full of persimmon preserves, and have you developed an aversion to the mere sight of another grapefruit?
You, Baton Rouge resident, have a fruit tree overabundance problem and volunteers with Baton Rouge Green want to help.
Through its City Citrus program, Baton Rouge Green is looking for fruit tree owners who have more production this fall than they can use for a volunteer harvest Saturday, Dec. 13. Volunteers with the organization will harvest the extra citrus and deliver the bounty to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank for distribution to more than 130 agencies in their 11-parish service area.
“Any kind of fresh fruit like that is tremendously important to the people we service,” said Mike Manning, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. The additional food is especially welcome during a year when the food bank is about a million pounds down in the amount of food it’s been able to distribute because of cuts from U.S. Department of Agriculture and donations in general, he said.
“To get fresh fruit is just tremendous,” he said.
This first city-wide harvest day is a first for Baton Rouge Green, but it’s a natural outgrowth of the City Citrus program that has a focus on making fresh fruit available to anyone, said Amy Loe, communications coordinator with Baton Rouge Green.
City Citrus involves planting of citrus trees in areas where the fruit can be openly picked and enjoyed by anyone in the public. Although Baton Rouge Green has done planting, those trees are still too young to produce fruit.
However, Loe said, she knows from her own experience of harvesting and giving away citrus from the lemon tree at her house that even relatively small trees around town are heavy with fruit right now.
“I had to give away a significant amount of mine to friends and family,” she said.
Since this is the first year of the harvest attempt, organizers are trying to focus just on the area in and around the city of Baton Rouge, including cities like Baker and Zachary. However, if someone has a significant number of trees farther afield, that’s something Baton Rouge Green can work with, she said.
“The City Citrus is volunteer based, so we want to match pickers to growers,” Loe said.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.