Operation Prickly Pear has returned to Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, 9500 N. Oracle Road. Now in its 10th year, the annual fundraiser involves the entire sixth-grade class of students as well as their parents and teachers.
The project, in which students produce prickly pear jelly and syrup from local fruit, helps fund the traditional sixth-grade retreat to the Grand Canyon.
The tradition began in 2001, when, due to limited space, the school’s sixth-grade students were being taught at the neighboring Canyon Del Oro Baptist Church.
“It was on one of our many walks to and from the main school campus that one of our students noticed the abundance of prickly pear fruit around the 80 acres of school grounds, and suggested the students make something with the fruit,” said PRCA teacher Holly Munro. “In those days, it was a pretty messy and painful process as parents were involved in juicing the spiky fruit. Thankfully, Cheri’s Desert Harvest now generously juices the fruit our students collect.”
These days, students are instructed on how to properly identify the ripe fruits and carefully remove the spiny “pears” with tongs. After the fruit is processed into juice, parent volunteers join with Pusch Ridge kitchen staff to combine the juice with other ingredients to produce the jelly and syrup, which is then labeled and packaged for everyday use or dressed for holiday gift-giving.
Jars of jelly or syrup may be purchased for $5 each, or $55 for a dozen. To order, call 797-0107.
The school also will sell the jars at its K-6 school, at the Oro Valley Marketplace Walmart from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 10; and at the Oro Valley Farmers Market at La Cañada and Naranja from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 17.