As summer comes to an end, bears are more active in the wilds around Fernie while they look for food and get ready for winter.
For Fernie, that’s a problem, because there are over 600 properties within the town that have apple, plum or pear trees growing on them.
Through an annual apple pick program, Rachel Dortman works to raise awareness and provide a means for all the apples in Fernie to be cleared not only to keep bears away, but to ensure good food doesn’t go to waste.
“There’s a balance between ensuring the people’s apples are picked when they’re ripe, but also ensuring they are picked to keep bears out of town,” she said.
The apple pick program has its roots in a particularly bad year for bears being shot within Fernie.
“It was an astronomical amount of bears that got shot in our area, in Fernie particularly,” she said.
“As a community I think we can do so much better at keeping bears out of town by securing our garbage, cleaning up our apples and making sure our compost is done properly.”
On food security, Dortman said that linking an otherwise wasted food source with people who could use the food was a no-brainer.
“We have a tonne of people that want apples. It’s such a waste of food. If we can connect the people that want the apples with the people who have trees I think we’re providing a great service for the landowner and the opportunity for people that really want those apples, and really want to put it to use.”
Dortman explained that through the apple pick program, Fernie residents with fruit trees can sign up to have their trees cleaned of fruit after it ripens, with no food left behind to attract wildlife. Volunteers will clean trees using their own equipment and either use or dispose of the fruit.
For more information, reach out to Rachel Dortman by texting or calling 250-423-8665. You can also reach out to her on Facebook on the Elk Valley Homesteading page. People with trees needing to be picked, anyone wanting to volunteer, or ranchers and farmers that could use fruit are encouraged to reach out.
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