A local nonprofit that promotes the cultivation of urban fruit has chosen Queen Anne and Magnolia for its next area of expansion.

City Fruit was originally founded in 2008 in South Seattle, and the organization that harvests fruit from backyards and public parks throughout the city has since grown to encompass most of Seattle. 

Catherine Morrison, City Fruit executive director, said that growth has been deliberate.

“This is a major expansion for us, because we’ve chosen over the last few years to grow very slowly and purposefully, but we have so much interest from tree owners in the neighborhood that this is the right time and year to make that expansion.”

Last month, City Fruit hosted its first meeting of the Queen Anne & Magnolia advisory committee at Serendipity Café & Lounge. Morrison said about 20 people showed up, but it was somewhat surprising just who did. 

“Most of the people who showed up don’t actually own fruit trees, they were just so excited about the idea, and wanted to be involved,” Morrison said. 

Approximately 150 trees have already been registered in the City Fruit system from people in the neighborhoods that have contacted the nonprofit in the past few years, to see when it would expand to the area.

Those that want to participate and add their tree to the harvest effort this year are asked to go to www.cityfruit.org, and click on the blue “Register your tree,” button. That page asks for information about the type of tree, and when it ripens. After that is submitted, signees will be sent an authorization email, which gives City Fruit permission to harvest. 

“The harvest is really key to what we’re doing, because our goal really is to make the greatest and fullest use of the urban fruit tree canopy, and that starts by collecting and harvesting the fruit from wherever we can,” Morrison said. 

For the organization, Morrison said, efficiency isn’t measured only in the total amount harvested (165,000 pounds in its history, 53,000 pounds just last year), but making the best use of the fruit.

That’s somewhere where City Fruit has made substantial gains in the past few years. Morrison said in 2014, approximately 68 percent of the fruit touched was either donated to food banks and meal programs, diverted to another use if it wasn’t high enough quality, or sold. 

That final part is a small portion that encompasses fruits like figs and persimmons. 

“Restaurants want them, food banks don’t,” she said.

Just two years later, 98 percent of the fruit touched went to all of those uses.

“We’ve gotten better about using all the fruit, and we’ve gotten more efficient about getting it to food banks, so more goes to donations,” she said.

Now, as the organization prepares for its first harvest in two new neighborhoods, Morrison said they’ve learned from past expansions how important it is to talk with the community, and have neighbors spread the word about their efforts. 

“We’ll be participating in local events in the neighborhood, we’ll be doing some outreach events for the local nurseries, and trying to just get to know people and get to meet people,” she said. 

To learn more about City Fruit, visit www.cityfruit.org

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