Orange orchard row with bins and volunteer emptying fruit

Our biggest harvest series of the year wrapped up on May 18. In 9 harvests, 240 volunteers and 5 farm family members picked and donated a total of 44,282 pounds of delicious navel oranges to Second Harvest (and benefitting as many as 40,000 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 106 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 2023 to help others.

This year's crop was substantial and meaningful, but was 1/4 the size of the record 2022 harvest. Why? Based on comments from the owners, the trees were full in February, but the heavy rains and winds the Bay Area experienced in March caused many of the oranges to drop. Farming can be a tough business, and nature makes the rules.

One of the continuing 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 isn't an event, it's a production. We're grateful for the good spirits and hard work of hundreds of community members who made these harvests possible:

  • The farm family, with owner 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; and long time farm staff member Jose driving tractors.
  • 25 of Village Harvest's volunteer leaders who stepped up to sustain many weekends in a row harvesting there. And special kudos to leader Christel 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, Megan, and Craig
  • Our partners at Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, especially Senior Food Resources Coordinator Judy Bateh, for orchestrating the logistics of truck deliveries and pickups of nearly 60 bins over a month. 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.
  • 240 harvesting volunteers, who brought their community spirit, family, and friends.

THANKS and gratitude to all.

Here are a few photos from this season - more coming soon.