By Terry Miller
News Flash: Not every teenager is preoccupied with texting, computers, video games and Facebook. In fact, we recently met a rather unique Junior at Arcadia High School who spends a good deal of his spare time outdoors in the fresh air helping his fellow man. Zach Selby, 17, gets into some physically exacting work, picking fresh fruit from trees, boxing that fruit and delivering the copious yield to places such as the Foothill Unity Center and Los Angeles Mission. – all with a little help from his friends and family.
Selby, and his brother Jackson, who is a freshman at Arcadia High, decided they needed to do something with the excess fruit their own trees were producing. There was no way they could consume all the trees’ bounty each season so what better thing to do than donate to a food bank.
Admittedly Zach does use a computer, but mostly for to create a data base of information for this vast project he has undertaken.
“It all started one summer when the Guava tree in our backyard was overloaded with fruit.” Zach told the Arcadia Weekly on Saturday. “ We ate a lot, we gave away a lot, and yet we still had a tree full of the fruit.” The inspiration came to the Selbys that harvesting surplus fruit from not only their own trees but those of their neighbors might be a enormous help to those less fortunate through the nearby Foothill Unity Center and other food banks.
Consequently new business grew out of a relatively simple premise. The company – Fruit For All – as it is now known, was inescapable. The not-for profit group has been growing gradually but progressively each month as word gets out of this extraordinary endeavor.
This past Saturday, we met up with Zach, his mum Judith and a friend of his from La Canada Flintridge, Casey Thompson, who helped pick 280 pounds of tangerines from a single tree on south Mayflower at the home of Lisa Brock, PTA President of Dana Middle School.
While we were talking to these young people, they continued to cut the tangerines carefully off the tree and place them in canvas bags where they were in due course transferred to the boxes.
That tree wasn’t their first stop last Saturday. The total netted for the day was 645.5 pounds of tangerines, oranges and lemons. It was a big weekend, but “not our biggest” according to Judith Selby who helps her son and his crew every weekend.
In late January, Fruit for All had a 1,000-pound-plus weekend “once we added up the picks from our satellite group and our own numbers.” Zach’s mother Judith said.
The ambitious group of volunteers got a major boost in the fall 2010 when Arcadia resident Carla Heer and her family joined forces. Heer organized her four kids to knock on doors and hand out flyers in the area looking for donor fruit trees.
It didn’t take long for homeowners to appreciate what these kids were doing. Word is gradually spreading and the buzz is nothing but positive. “Everyone wins” according to Zach’s mother. Kids and some parents are enjoying the out of door experience you simply don’t get on Facebook. The satellite groups, which go out on picks using the founders’ equipment – deliver the fruit to the L.A. mission on a regular basis.
Fruit for All is a non-profit, community harvest group, organized and run by a Zach Selby his family and a growing list of dedicated volunteers. Their main objective is to find people with an abundance of fruit or vegetables, harvest them, let the owner keep what they want, and finally take the fruit to the Foothill Unity Center.
Foothill Unity Center’s executive director, Joan Whitenack said Fruit For All is “ an answer to our prayers.” A strong believer in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially local fruit, Whitenack said that she is convinced local fruit will help fight off local allergies and other ailments. The not-uncommon theory that has been tested with time and honored by local gourmet chefs who believe in local, seasonal fruit and vegetables. It simply makes sense, when you think about it.
Foothill Unity Center serves between 600-800 families per week with their Monrovia and Pasadena locations. Whitenack calls Zach Selby’s efforts a “miracle” as fresh fruit and vegetables have such a short shelf life as opposed to canned goods.
By February 5, 2011, the fledgling Fruit For All had donated over 8,000 pounds of fruit to food banks and rescue missions in Los Angeles county.
By the end of this school year they hope to have harvested at least 15,000 pounds.
If you have fruit or vegetables that you don’t know what to do with, please call Fruit for All and they’d be delighted to harvest your produce at your convenience. In addition they are always looking for volunteers as well as cash donations. Judith Selby says they need to get a larger truck in which to transport the ever-growing boxes of fruit harvested.
The best way to contact the group is: email@example.com is or call 626-359-6666.
Special Thanks to
Mark Burstyn, Pharm.D. Colonial Pharmacy ,1326 S. Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, for making us aware of this unique student