The Squamish Fruit Tree Project is no longer operating. Instead, we started a Facebook group called Squamish Food Swap and Share. Please post about surplus fruit and picking opportunities there!
What is the Squamish Fruit Tree Project?
The Squamish Fruit Tree Project ran from 2008 to 2015. It was an initiative from Squamish CAN and WildSafe BC. The goal of the program was to reduce the amount of fruit available to bears and increase the amount of fruit available to those in need within the community.Watch a short video on what the Squamish Fruit Tree Project is all about.
Residents and homeowners are responsible for managing their fruit trees under the Squamish Wildlife Attractant Bylaw Nr. 2053 (2009). Domestic fruit is not a natural food source for bears and is the number two attractant that brings bears into our community.
For homeowners and residents who are physically unable to pick their fruit and need assistance, we offered to harvest their fruit with the help of our volunteers.
We also made sure that the fruit gets to those who need and want fruit, like our volunteers and organizations in the community (e.g. Helping Hands Society and Women Centre).
- Fruit is the second biggest attractant for bears after garbage
- Squamish Wildlife Attractant bylaw Nr. 2053 (2009) requires residents to remove fallen fruit from the ground within 3 days and if fruit is stored outdoors, it must be stored in a wildlife resistant enclosure
- Each year thousands of pounds of fruit rot in the backyards of Squamish
- Pruning your fruit trees over the winter will ensure a healthy and manageable harvest
Fruit Tree Considerations: How to keep bears away from your fruit:
- Pruning your fruit tree in the winter (late January – February) helps to keep your fruit tree manageable and healthy
- If you cannot utilise all of your fruit, consider power washing some of the blossoms off the tree in the spring to reduce the amount of fruit produced
- Pick all fruit as soon as it is ripe, don’t let fruit accumulate on the ground, harvest fruit regularly
- Consider using a portable electric fence to keep bears out until fruit is harvested
- Cutting down your fruit tree in order to avoid future wildlife conflicts and replace it with a non-fruit bearing tree (for examples see wildlife friendly landscaping brochure)
Wildlife friendly landscaping tips for reducing bear visits to your backyard:
- Consider planting dwarf species that are easier to manage and harvest or plant non-fruit bearing species (for more info on non-wildlife attracting plants, see Wildlife Friendly Landscaping Brochure
- Do not use plants that bears like to eat in high traffic areas such as near a doorway/ entrance or near children’s play sets.
- Avoid using bone meal or fish fertilizer
- Avoid seeding with clover and keep your grass cut and free of dandelions
- Choose plant species that attract birds, bees and butterflies without attracting bears. Install a bird bath or a nesting box
What to do with the fruit harvest?
Fruit preservation like canning is a great way to make your fruit last for a long time and have fruit available during the winter months. Some examples include making jams, jellies, apple sauce, fruit pies, etc. Squamish CAN offers canning and preserving workshops throughout the year. Check our events calender for upcoming events or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another option is to connect with neighbours, friends and other people from the community who also have fruit trees in order to exchange and share fruit.
If you would like to donate good, edible fruit, you can contact email@example.com or try some of the local organizations.
What to do with rotten fruit?
Fruit that has fallen on the ground is highly attractive for bears, as it is easily accessible. The Squamish Wildlife Attractant Bylaw Nr. 2053 (2009) requires residents to pick up their fruit within 3 days and if fruit is stored outdoors, it must be stored in a wildlife resistant enclosure.
Pruning your fruit tree(s):
Many of our fruit trees are too big for us to easily reach and harvest resulting in fruit left available to bears. Bears are agile climbers and have no problem reaching un-harvested fruit in the higher branches. Unfortunately, this often results in badly damaged trees. Pruning your trees will reduce the availability of fruit and will reduce the potential for human-bear conflict.
Properly pruned trees can yield higher quality fruit and pruned trees can live significantly longer than trees that haven’t been pruned.
Proper tree pruning opens up the tree canopy to maximize light penetration. For most deciduous fruit trees, flower buds for the current season’s crop are formed the previous summer. Light penetration is essential for flower bud development and optimal for fruit quality. Although a mature tree may be growing in full sun, a very dense canopy may not allow enough light to reach inside. Opening the tree canopy also permits adequate air movement throughout the tree promoting rapid drying and minimizing disease.
(Source: Bear Aware)
When to prune
- Free-standing fruit trees or bush trees, such as those grown in an orchard should be pruned when they’re dormant, in winter or early spring.
- Trained trees, such as espaliers, cordons, pyramids and fans should be pruned in late August or early September.
- When pruning it’s essential to keep your secateurs sharp. Blunt tools can cause branches to tear, leading to wounds on the tree that will attract disease.
- It’s also important to have a pruning saw to cut off larger branches.
Pruning a bush tree
- A bush tree is the most common form of fruit tree, with an open arrangement of branches growing from a short trunk.
- Remove any dead, dying or diseased branches and then cut out any branches that are crossing over each other.
- Branches that are growing into the centre of the tree can also be cut out, as they can prevent sunlight from reaching in.
- If the tree has reached the desired height, cut back the leaders (the new growth at the tip of each branch) by about two-thirds.
- If you want the tree to grow taller, leave the leaders and cut back lateral branches leaving about six buds.
Pruning overgrown trees
- Old, neglected trees are often vigorous and very large, with the fruit out of reach. Rejuvenate them over two to three seasons by cutting out all the dead or diseased wood as well as a few main branches to allow more sunlight in.
- Shortening others to side branches and thinning overcrowded spurs also helps stimulate new productive shoots.
(Source: BBC Gardening Guides bbc.co.uk)
For more information on pruning your fruit tree,
Contacts and more information:
Residents are responsible for managing their fruit trees. If you are physically unable to pick your fruit and need assistance, please post on Squamish Food Swap and Share.
To report wildlife, please call
Conservation Officer, 24 h hotline: 1-877-952-727
For more information on human-wildlife conflicts,
visit www.wildsafebc.com, www.bearaware.bc.ca or contact
Squamish WildSafe BC Community Coordinator
This initiative is brought to you by: