Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

Tulane VISTA team and Fran (far right) after a successful orchard harvest.

Tulane VISTA team and Fran (far right) after a successful orchard harvest.

If you remember, last month I wrote that our final harvest hurrah would be a big orchard harvest in Belle Chasse with the Tulane VISTA team. Last year, the team harvested around 1,000 pounds during a similar service day – an incredible amount for a day’s work! With that goal in mind, I collected boxes, rented a U-Haul and headed across the river. When I first arrived at the orchard I was greeted by the nicest woman named Fran. She was born and raised in Belle Chasse and most of the houses and land surrounding her orchard belonged to one of her family members. She showed Mary and I the grapefruit and LA Sweet trees we would be harvesting, which her father had planted back in the 1970s.

Row of grapefruit trees at Martinez Orchard. Belle Chasse, LA.

Row of grapefruit trees at Martinez Orchard. Belle Chasse, LA.

Before the Tulane VISTA team arrived, Fran and Mary helped to assemble the wax boxes while Fran entertained us with stories of her childhood. By the time the volunteers got there we were pretty much ready to get started. The weather was a little chillier than we are used to but the sun was out and it was a beautiful day to be outside. Before I knew it, boxes filled with grapefruit were stacking up and by lunchtime we had harvested almost 2,500 pounds of fruit! I think that might be a NOFTP harvest record! After such a productive morning the team headed back to New Orleans for a well-deserved lunch while I stayed to wrap things up.

Liz and Helen use citrus pickers to snag those hard to reach grapefruit.

Liz and Helen use citrus pickers to snag those hard to reach grapefruit.

Right before I left, Fran surprised me with a bouquet of flowers from her garden! One of the perks of this job is meeting all the wonderful people, like Fran, who give cheerfully. They are all the incredible volunteers, who donate their time and energy to fight hunger, and the fruit tree owners, who not only donate their fresh fruit to those in need but also serve us hot chocolate, tea and snacks while we work. On the other side of things, and just as important, are the people and organizations we work with that gratefully accept our donations of fruit and make my day. My job may not be glamorous but it certainly is rewarding.

Fran's flowers brightening up our Deming apartment!

Fran’s flowers brightening up our Deming apartment!

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This entry was posted on April 27, 2015 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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