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Harvest your apples for community juicing day

Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project will host a community juicing day on Oct. 29 at 13751 County Road 29. (Courtesy photo)
For every bushel of apples, growers will receive a 5-liter box of pasteurized juice

The Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project will host a community juicing day Saturday, Oct. 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Orchard Hub, 13751 County Road 29 south of Dolores.

Apple tree owners are encouraged to harvest the fruit for juice processing before the hard frost comes. Residents can visit the Orchard Hub to purchase juice pressed from local apples.

For every bushel of apples, growers will receive on 5-liter box of pasteurized juice free of charge. MORP utilizes its mobile commercial juicer with pasteurization capacity that is FDA certified.

Apples must be clean, free of dirt, manure, leaves twigs or rot, and harvested into clean boxes or crates.

Do not harvest where there is fresh manure and livestock.

Heritage apple juice will be for sale for $20 per pasteurized 5-liter box. Buyers should not open the pasteurized juice box until the next day because it is packaged scalding hot.

If you want unpasteurized juice, bring sanitized containers, no glass. Suggested donation for unpasteurized juice is $20 per gallon and $10 per gallon for every bushel of apples you provide.

Consumers drink unpasteurized juice at their own risk, especially if they’re not fermenting it into hard cider.

No pets are allowed at the community juicing day. Supervised children are welcome.

Jude Schuenemeyer (left), co-founder of the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, sells heritage apple trees as part of an effort to bring back the orchard economy. (Courtesy photo)

To keep allergens out of the processing area, no food or drink, besides water or apple juice, is allowed in the facility, on the dock or near the press.

The MORP Orchard Hub is seeing volunteers for Oct. 20, 25 and 29 to help package pasteurized juice into 5-liter boxes. Shifts are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The work involves labeling boxes by packing date, packaging juice into cardboard boxes (protective gloves provided), closing the boxes and stacking them on pallets. Because heavy industrial equipment is present, children are not allowed to volunteer. The work is similar to assembly line work.

Volunteers receive a free box of apple juice for every four-hour shift, plus a MORP T-shirt. Volunteers must sign up for a shift beforehand.

Apple economy grows

The new commercial apple press has created a job opportunity for people to pick apples in the area and sell them, said Jude Schuenemeyer, MORP co-founder.

“There are thousands of bushels out there to be picked,” he said. “It is worth the effort. People are starting to see the value rather than let it go to waste.”

MORP will pay a picker $8 per bushel of apples. The picker must bring in at least 20 bushels to get that price.

If MORP picks the apples, they pay the orchard owner $4 per bushel.

The apples have don’t have to be perfect, but they must be clean and not have too much rot.

MORP has processed more that 1,000 bushels of apples this season.

Donated apples in good condition are also accepted; just drop them at the Road P Orchard Hub location.

“We have the apple press infrastructure, the next step is getting all the apples off the trees. It is happening, but not near to its full potential,” Schuenemeyer said.

MORP also takes the mobile juicer on the road to nearby orchard communities. This year they went to Nucla to process over 300 bushels of apples there as part of the Apple Core Project.

For more information on MORP, visit montezumaorchard.org