Fruits of their labour go to those in need

June 9, 2017

Fruits of their labour go to those in need

Founder of Community Fruit Harvesting, Di Celliers enjoys a day of picking fruit for Auckland charities. Photo: Supplied

An Auckland-based organisation is doing its bit to help reduce food waste by donating unwanted fruit to charities around the city and hosting fruit preserving seminars.

Around 500 volunteers are involved with Community Fruit Harvesting, which picks unwanted fruit from trees and donates it to charities.

Auckland woman Di Celliers thought of the idea after starting her own community garden and fruit orchard in Browns Bay in 2011.

With a new understanding of how much work fruit trees need, Mrs Celliers began to notice the abundance of unpicked fruit on trees around her neighbourhood. She thought it was time for change.

“I was driving around the suburb and seeing these huge trees absolutely laden with fruit, looking like they weren’t being picked and I thought ‘gosh’ there seems to be so many out there that aren’t being used.”

Mrs Celliers began contacting those with fruit trees she saw, asking if they were willing to share their fruit.

After talking with her friends who said the idea was a “little bit cheeky”, Mrs Celliers put a notice in the North Shore Times and got an immediate response.

“People started calling me and saying ‘it is a brilliant idea, let’s get going and let’s do it’.”

Last year saw Community Fruit Harvesting volunteers pick fruit at more than 410 different locations around Auckland, growing their production by 60 per cent.

Around 35,000kg of fruit has been harvested since the organisation first began.

Fruit-preserving seminars, which help raise funds for the group and teach Aucklanders ways they can reduce their fruit waste, are also held.

Mrs Celliers said they donate most of the produce to Auckland City Mission which then distributes them to local food banks.

Other people also contacted them, saying they were a charity and asking for fruit, she added. “We have to double-check they are an authorised organisation first, because we don’t want to donate to any groups that intend to make money from the fruit.”

Mrs Celliers said running the organisation was very satisfying in the sense it not only helped charities but also facilitated socialisation within the community.

“A lot of our volunteers are lonely, widowed or new to the community, and for them it’s the opportunity to connect with other people. We never envisioned how important that side is of what we do.”

Mrs Celliers said she would like to see more people get involved with Community Fruit Harvesting and was looking towards introducing area coordinators.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering or who has fruit trees can contact Mrs Celliers here.

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