Tom Watson, a three-year member of the Sun City Garden Club, holds out a pair of lemons gleaned from local trees.

Dave Martinez/Daily News-Sun

The Sun City Garden Club far exceeded its goals for this citrus-gleaning season, collecting more than 700,000 pounds of fruit.

Citrus drive coordinator Pete Petersen had set a goal for Citrus Drive 2011 of 500,000 pounds of fruit to surpass the 460,000 pounds collected last year.

The club collected a grand total of 708,000 pounds, including 173,000 pounds at its Sun Bowl drop-off location, 239,000 pounds at Sundial Recreation Center, 185,000 pounds at Bell Recreation Center and 111,000 pounds at Marinette Recreation Center.

The Citrus Drive, now in its seventh year, has collected more than 3 million pounds of fruit for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, club officials said.

Part of this year’s success, Petersen said, can be attributed to his newly designed citrus picker, which is more efficient than traditional cage pickers.

Petersen said he thanks the Garden Club volunteers and the many residents who donated their citrus. Site captains Tom Watson, Pat Lehto, Dennis Arend, along with Petersen, helped fruit donors deposit their fruit in the correct bins and load 150 crates onto a trailer belonging to club member Frank Lueth.

The club’s gleaning team of 16 volunteers responded to as many Sun City residents as they could, and regret that they could not fulfill all requests for help with picking citrus trees, Petersen said.

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