"Just waste," Paula Robinson said as she looked out over a large apricot orchard at Fresno State.
"It's such good fruit. It's so hard to get really tree–ripened fresh fruit and it's going to waste," she said.
So she called Fresno State to find out why.
"Back in March, when we had the storms come through, this particular orchard did get the hail damage," Mike Mosinski, Fresno State interim farm manager, said.
An insurance adjustor came out and found 80% of the crop was damaged.
"We are getting an insurance claim on the damaged fruit. And then at that point, economically, to try to go through and pick only what looks good just wasn't a good business decision for us. So basically the fruit had to fall to the ground," Mosinski said.
But university officials tell KMPH News Paula isn't the only person who's contacted them.
They say they've received a lot of phone calls and emails from people who drive through the busy intersection outraged over the unpicked fruit on the trees and the ground.
"Can't you have another group, a community group, can't the students pick it, can't you donate it?" Mosinski said, referring to the questions people are asking.
But Mosinski says they can't.
He says allowing people to come in and pick the apricots would introduce a host of liability issues. And he said most non–profits want the fruit already picked and ready to go.
"A lot of people have criticized me, saying, well those are excuses. Those are the realities that we have to deal with and make sure that we're covered," Mosinski said.
"Just seems like they could be used somehow. We use them to make jams," Robinson said.
Paula says she understands the university is in a rotten spot.
But she can't help but be disappointed.
"We live in the Valley and we can't get tree–ripened fruit. When there is obviously tree–ripened fruit, we can't have it," she said.
Mike says he's disappointed too, watching the fruits of their labor just fall to the ground.
University officials tell KMPH News, because the price of apricots has dropped so much over the last ten years, this will probably be the last crop they grow.
And that orchard will more than likely be pulled out by this fall.
We called the folks at Community Food Bank to see if they'd be interested in working with Fresno State to get some of the fruit and they said, absolutely.
Now, they're trying to find someone to donate a crew of laborers for a few hours that's trained in that kind of work.
If you'd like to help out, contact Rick Palermo at the Community Food Bank at 559-270-2740 extension 121.
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