Plant fruit trees guilt free

Fruit trees add so much to a yard, with their beautiful, fragrant blossoms in the spring and delicious edible offerings come summer and fall.

But consumers have become wary of planting them in recent years with the advent of increased bear awareness.

Unless we intend to devote ourselves to the task of ensuring fruit is picked before it reaches the stage it will attract bears (which is frequently sooner than we would like to eat it), it can become an easy food source and draw the bruins in.

And we all know what ends up happening to habituated bears - they aren't relocated to the wilds, that's for sure.

So people planning to pick up a $20 tree coupon from the City (available as of Monday, April 16) that can be used at local gardening outlets toward the purchase of an ornamental, shade or fruit tree, might be inclined to shy away from planting fruit trees.

But there's no need. Though people are certainly encouraged to be responsible by tending to any fruit they grow, the City has an active fruit-picking program that can help out.

The Kamloops Food Bank/Action Centre will come and pick surplus fruit from people's trees, for free, if homeowners aren't able to do it themselves (or if someone is overwhelmed with abundance and just needs a bit of help).

Picked fruit is distributed to children's agencies and the food bank, so nothing goes to waste and there is no need to worry about attracting bears.

If you see a neighbour's fruit trees dripping with excess fruit, residents can call the food bank and they will drop off a flyer explaining the program.

The initiative falls in line with another concept currently gaining ground across North America and in Kamloops - growing edibles instead of ornamental plants in public places that are available for anyone to enjoy.

Last year was the first here where a community garden was planted downtown, where a variety of vegetables and herbs were literally up for grabs by anyone who wished to pinch a leaf or pull up a root veggie.

So take your tree coupons and plant a fruit tree if you wish, the City has programs in place to help you out.

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