SPOKANE VALLEY-- Thousands of pounds of freshly-picked produce will end up on local food bank shelves this week.
Volunteers pick the fruit from an orchard that used to be fairly run-down. The apple trees there were part of a much larger, commercial orchard, but for more than 20 years it sat out of service. That is until a Spokane Valley man and his family stepped up to change it.
Now, all the apples from the orchard go to the hungry.
More than 70 people are volunteering their time this week to pick the apples. The apples will be sent to Second Harvest, which will then distribute them to food banks across the region.
When Gene Alsperger bought the five-ace piece of property in South Spokane Valley, few apples grew on the 133 trees on the land. Alsperger taught himself to restore them, and five years later, they are producing fruit. Ever apple picked went to the needy since the orchard became an up and running property again.
Alsperger has passed away, but now his children continue his tradition every fall.
“He was doing this for fun. He did it because he liked it. He just wanted to give the food to a good cause,” Mike Alsperger, Gene’s son, said.
All of Alsperger’s children say this year’s harvest should be the largest since their dad restored the orchard. They hope to pick close to 11,000 pounds of apples, which is around the same amount they picked in the last two years combined.
Those apples will all benefit the hungry of the Inland Northwest.