I need to start off by saying that I didn’t do a mini-documentary about the cherry harvest process because I felt the world had a need for such information. I did it as an exercise, as practice using my video camera and Final Cut Pro. I wanted to see if I had the ability to put together a documentary. This 5-minute video is the result.
This was my second summer experiencing the harvest process at one of the orchards I dry. The Schroeders are great people, friendly and a pleasure to work with. I dried their orchard four times this year. Being present for part of the harvest gave me an opportunity to see whether the work I’d done made a difference. It did.
The Schroeders were kind enough to let me walk the orchard and packing shed area with my Sony Handycam for a total of about 8 hours over two days. I also stopped in around sunset one evening to take some of the establishing shots with the soft “golden hour” light. They and their workers explained the process to me. I shot a total of about an hour of video footage. That that was barely enough. I still wish I’d gotten better shots of some parts of the process.
I found the cherry harvest fascinating — and I think you might, too. We’re all spoiled — we go into the supermarket in the summertime and find cherries waiting in the produce section, already bagged and ready to take home. But how many of us consider how the cherries get from the tree to the supermarket? It’s a complex process that requires hundreds of people and specialized equipment. This video shows part of the story, following the cherries from the trees in one orchard as they’re picked, gathered, chilled, and packed into a refrigerator truck. Take a moment to see for yourself:
Done? Not bad for a first serious effort.
From this point, the cherries go to the processing plant in Wenatchee, WA. They’re run through more cold water and lots of custom equipment before they’re picked through by several lines of people who toss out the bad ones. Then they’re sorted by size, run through more clean water, and eventually bagged and boxed up by even more people for shipment. I was fortunate enough to get a tour of that facility (and five more pounds of fresh cherries) a few days after I shot the video for this one. I may do a video of that facility and its process next year.
The amazing part of all this: the cherries are normally ready to ship to stores the same day they are picked.
More amazing stuff: the cherries I saw at the packing facility were headed for Korea and would be there within 18 hours of my tour. Whoa.
The point of all this is that there’s a lot that goes into getting fresh food into stores. Cherries are unlike many fruits — they have a very short shelf life. With proper care, they might last a week. That’s why everything is rushed and why so much effort is put into keeping them cool as soon as they’re picked.
I hope you enjoyed this. Comments are welcome.