Our biggest harvest series of the year is a wrap! A total of 9 harvests by 266 volunteers and 5 farm family members resulting in the donation of 92,843 pounds of spectacularly sweet oranges to Second Harvest (going to 50,000 or more people in the community).
The "Giant Orange Orchard" is a navel orange orchard in North San Jose filled with 1,500 trees, a 14 acre island of the Valley's agricultural past surrounded by the tech companies and apartments of modern Silicon Valley. The farm family has owned the land for 104 years, and fruit from the orchard was harvested and sold commercially through 2017. The family first found Village Harvest in 2018 and liked sharing their fruit with the community so much that they donated their entire crop again in 2021 to help others.
This year we originally planned to have 5 weekend harvests that were smaller for coronavirus times but still 40 volunteers, and we added experimental Thursday evening "sunset harvests" to pick higher fruit left after the large weekend harvests picked fruit that could be reached from the ground. They were a big hit for volunteers (relaxing yet productive) and added nearly 10,000 pounds of abundance that in previous years would have fallen and gone to waste. By the time all the fruit was gone we completed 5 large weekend harvests, 3 sunset harvests, and a final Sunday harvest of remaining higher fruit.
One of the highlights this year was getting to harvest together with the 3rd generation family owner (Bob), the 4th generation (Andrew and Amanda), and the 5th generation (Andrew and Amanda's young children).
Putting on 9 harvests and picking nearly 100,000 pounds isn't an event, it's a production. We're grateful for the good spirits and hard work of hundreds of people who made this production possible:
- The farm family, with Bob continuing to support the harvests, donating the fruit, and driving tractors; Andrew for his help driving tractors, and making the Thursday evening Sunset Harvests possible; Amanda, who might have personally emptied 50,000 pounds of oranges from buckets into bins; and the playful encouragement of Andrew and Amanda's young children who kept us company.
- 25 of Village Harvest's volunteer leaders who stepped up to sustain many weekends in a row harvesting there. And special kudos to leaders Christel and Jim who made the Thursday evening events possible (along with Andrew) as well as many of the weekend events, too.
- The planning and improvisation of Village Harvest staff members Susan, Tracy, Meg, and Craig
- Our partners at Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, including Judy Bateh and Jen Toller, for orchestrating the logistics of truck deliveries and pickups of nearly 100 bins over 5 weeks. And the many Second Harvest and food agency folks who distributed the oranges to many tens of thousands of people in our area who need healthy food.
- 250 harvesting volunteers, who brought their community spirit, family, and friends.
THANKS and gratitude to all.
Here are a few photos from this season, and check out an earlier article with more photos from the first two harvests.