Lily Marlborough, 3, learns how to use the apple press at the Fernie Fall Fair over the weekend. Alexandra Heck/Free Press Staff

Cleaning up apple trees a ‘pressing’ matter

Wildsight toolshare program offers apple presses to clean up trees and keep bears away

It’s a simple process.

First the apple is picked from the tree, then you throw it into the apple press.

The hand crank on the side of the bright red unit grinds the fruit, which is fed down into a container.

From there, a cork screw implement squishes the pulverized fruit bits, and voila—glorious fresh pressed apple juice.

Unfortunately, without the proper tools, this entire process becomes difficult; and apple trees in backyards across the Elk Valley attract hungry bears, eager to eat the fallen fruits.

“It’s very, very frequent,” said Courtney Baker, Branch Coordinator of Wildsight in Fernie. She says they often get reports of bear munching on apples and pears in backyards across the town.

“Everyone’s trees are loaded with apples this season,” she said. “Deter wildlife from becoming habituated to easy food sources.”

To encourage residents to take advantage of the apples, Wildsight is providing a tool sharing program where apple pickers, presses and other items are available for loan.

The wooden closet beside the office is packed with ladders, gardening equipment and more; at the disposal of those who wish to sign them out online.

“Pretty much everything you need to pick or process the harvest,” said Baker.

For those unable to pick their own, Wildsight has a tree registry board, where residents can sign up to have volunteers come and pick the apples for them.

Groups such as Elk Valley Homesteaders hold organized apple picking and processing events, where they use the fruit and turn them into a variety of delicious goodies.

“It’s there, it’s readily available and it’s delicious,” said Baker.

For more information on the program, visit wildsight.ca/toolshare