This year's orange harvest at the giant orchard in N. San Jose started out with a hiccup when the shelter-in-place orders were issued on March 16, the day before we were to supposed to start! We had planned a series of six to eight 100 volunteer harvests, but that was not to be.
The virus and shelter-in-place controls were a huge impact on all our lives, and also dramatically affected food assistance organizations. As these partners changed their operations to no-contact drive through distribution, we were able to take stock of the situation to figure out new protocols and acquire hard-to-find but essential protective supplies like masks, wipes, sanitizer, and disinfectant. That took many weeks.
In early May we started what became a series of 3 harvests of around 15 volunteers each, designed to ensure volunteer spacing and safety. While these were much smaller than our original plans and previous year's harvests, the groups were mighty - each "small" harvest picked 7,000 lbs. of delicious navel oranges!
While we were off and trying to get supplies, during April the farmer-owner, his family, and a few friends started harvesting a few days each week; he didn't want to see the fruit go to waste. Through their persistence and hard work, over a month they were able to harvest nearly 100,000 lbs. In total the harvests at the orchard yielded a total of about 120,000 lbs of oranges, so much that 50,000 or more people will have benefitted.
Enjoy a few photos in the gallery below; it's a little different harvesting with a mask and gloves but spirits were running high and we were all happy to be outdoors harvesting fruit and helping feed the community.