While Americans were celebrating Independence on the Fourth of July, FAR scholarship students spent the day celebrating a uniquely Armenian treasure: apricots!

The day began in anticipation of good weather. The group was full of energy when they arrived in the picturesque village of Yervandashat, which is a true historical landmark.

The clouds were refusing to give way to the sun, so the students began sorting some collected fruit, in hopes that the weather would improve and allow further work to take place.

The President of the Yervandashat Agricultural Association Consumers Cooperative, Arkadi Khachikyan had planned the day of joint efforts for this year’s harvest. He was caught unaware by a surplus of fruit and contacted the FAR Yerevan office with a request to mobilize a group of volunteers to help collect the harvest.

The trees were already bent and some of them were broken under the weight of the bountiful crops. Locals had not managed to collect all the fruit by themselves. In fact, as Arkadi pointed out, it is normal to average ten tons of loss each year, but FAR’s students helped reduce this year’s loss by two tons.

The volunteers worked in three groups, collecting the precious crops as soon as the sun peeked out of the rainy clouds. The process of collection and storage of apricots turned into a competition. In the end, however, it did not matter who the winners were: all together the volunteers collected 120 farm baskets, each of which weigh about 33 lbs.

In return for the good work, the Yervandashat farming cooperative has agreed to provide some of the dried fruit for the Bay Area Friends of Armenia -sponsored soup kitchens in Armenia that are operated by FAR. If this cooperation can be sustained over time, it seems to be a perfect way for FAR scholarship beneficiaries to build relationships with the beneficiaries of other FAR programs and establish a network of benevolence.