BAYFIELD – Pine River Shares’ annual fruit harvest drew a couple dozen Bayfield residents last weekend with the promise of barbecued meats, potato salad, cake and freshly pressed apple cider. For the younger attendees, the major draw was a recently purchased fruit press that turned apples into cider.
“The kids like doing the pressing,” Pine River Shares food program spokeswoman Sarah Grover said on Saturday. “They like working out their arms.”
“It’s fun,” said 15-year-old volunteer Jordan Taylor. “I did a lot of everything today.”
Besides Jordan and his family showing up to assist Pine River Shares, other residents spent the day helping sort the 2,000 pounds of apples once they had been gleaned.
“About a dozen people actually participated in gathering the apples, pressing them and collecting the scraps,” said Pine River Shares Executive Director Pam Wilhoite. “We hope to get more volunteers every year.”
Not wanting to waste any part of the apples collected for the harvest, the scraps from the press will go to feeding Bayfield’s livestock.
The fruit harvest event is just one part of Pine River Shares’ effort to involve the community in collecting food for those in need. Besides apples, Pine River Shares has collected a commercial refrigerator’s worth of eggs from local farmers, as well as collections of blue corn and bison bars.
“We’re trying to get a better food system in place for our community,” Wilhoite said. “We want healthy, thriving communities in the Pine River Valley area. We want to be able to bring more food to those who need it.”
Part of Pine River Shares’ commitment to feeding the community includes its weekly food-share gatherings, backpack food program for children, community potluck dinners and a Thanksgiving feast scheduled for late November.
“Rebuilding our food system means all of the communities need to participate, which they’re doing,” Wilhoite said. “We’re giving away apple orchard trees. We plan on planting 100 more (fruit) trees over the next year. We’re processing and storing more food than ever. We want to make sure every person from Vallecito to Ignacio is getting the food they need.”