Aug 14, 2013 8:18 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Apple grower urges other farmers to consider u-pick to save produce

A labor shortage in Santa Barbara County has forced many growers to abandon some of their crop because there are not enough workers to pick the fruit before it goes bad, but a local apple grower is using a u-pick concept to save her produce.

"I just needed to get the apples to the people and do it in a way that worked for everybody," said Carolyn Sokol, owner of Carolyn's Farm.

Sokol grows Granny Smith apples, which is a very different fruit from strawberries.

Apples aren't as delicate and have a longer shelf life but picking them fast enough is still just as challenging for her as it is for other growers.

"We need those workers and they need us and there has to be a way where it's equitable to everyone," said Sokol.

Sokol has more than 170 apple trees in her orchard.

Years ago, she hired workers to pick, but she couldn't afford it so she came up with a solution.

"It would be better than getting nothing for them or plowing them under. It's a shame. I think people deserve to have nice fresh fruit and if it takes them picking it and they are willing to do it, it works," said Sokol.

It's a concept she says local strawberry growers should consider.

"It would take fewer people to have a little stand here and there where people could bring their strawberries and weigh them and pay whatever you want per pound,"
said Sokol.

So when you start to feel the crisp fall air, apples are ready to be picked.

"It's just a hard way to live and yet its rewards are so much better the other way that makes it worthwhile," said Sokol.

Carloyn's apple orchard opens Labor Day weekend.

Apple season starts in August and runs through November.



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