Communities Grow Stronger with Fruit Tree Projects

Fruit Tree Projects are helping feed communities all over the world. Here’s how the Santa Cruz fruit tree project got started.

| November/December 2013

  • Apples hanging from a tree limb
    For Steve Schnaar, (whose childhood memories include picking apples with his family), knocking on doors to inquire about overladen fruit trees was a "hobby" of his that soon blossomed into the Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project, now in its third year in Santa Cruz, California.
    Photo By Heike Brauer

  • Apples hanging from a tree limb

Over the past few years, “Fruit Tree Projects” have been popping up all over the world, from Vancouver and Portland, to New Orleans, to Fiji and Australia and beyond. They start small, with just one or two proactive individuals who are pained by the sight of perfectly good fruit in the late stages of decomposition.

Some Fruit Tree Projects redistribute their fruit harvests to undernourished communities, while others gobble them up themselves, and many celebrate the harvest by getting together and processing large quantities of fruit into any number of delicacies.

Even with the variations in types of Fruit Projects out there, one basic truth remains the same: the only thing standing between a hungry belly and the world’s excess fruit supply is a knock on a neighbor’s door.

For Steve Schnaar, (whose childhood memories include picking apples with his family), knocking on doors to inquire about overladen fruit trees was a hobby that soon blossomed into the Santa Cruz Fruit Tree Project, now in its third year in Santa Cruz, California.



“I have a long history of knocking on people’s doors and saying ‘it looks like you have more apples than you can handle,’ or cherries, or whatever it may be, and it’s usually true—most people with a big tree aren’t using it all, or are happy to share,” says Schnaar.

“Sure, a lot of people are intimidated to knock on strangers’ doors ... but I don’t have that problem. People can say no if they want to say no.”