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The bears that tramp into Bozeman backyards in search of autumnal snacks may object to Anna Deals’ idea to use unwanted apples.

But Deal, who owns Lockhorn Hard Cider with her husband, Glen Deal, isn’t concerned about making an enemy of the bears and is putting the call out to her Gallatin Valley neighbors: donate your extra apples and crabapples, wormholes and all.

Deal is gathering apples from the Gallatin Valley for the third annual Bozeman Backyard Blend cider. Ten percent of the ciders’ sales revenue will be donated to nonprofits Haven, Gallatin Valley Land Trust and the Bozeman Symphony.

“There are so many apples that are going to waste,” Deal said. “It’s just a natural solution.”

Lockhorn is looking for apple donations or even apple-picking volunteers, and will offer a free pint or can of cider to anyone who brings 25 pounds of apples to its cider house at 21 S. Wallace Ave. Apple donations will be accepted through Oct. 23.

Since Sept. 18, Deal has filled one bin of apples from orchards and backyards — which holds about 400 pounds of apple — and another bin is almost full with donations.

Each bin of apples could make about 26 gallons of cider, Deal said. She’s hoping to get at least eight bins of apples this year, which would make a little more than 200 gallons of cider — which amounts to more than 1,600 pints.

First pressed in 2019, the backyard blend will combat fruit waste and is a fun way to give back to the community, Deal said.

“There’s essentially an established orchard spread out throughout the Gallatin Valley in people’s backyards,” she said.

An added bonus is keeping bears out of backyards and out of harm’s way.

“The bears may disagree,” Deal joked at her downtown cidery, which opened in 2014.

People who donate apples may choose which nonprofit they want their portion of the proceeds to go to, Deal said.

At the end of the harvest, Deal will estimate how the donations will be divvied up, based on how many apples were donated to which cause. In years past, it’s been split evenly.

In 2019, about 15,000 pounds of apples were picked and donated, which raised about $1,600 for the three nonprofits and made about 1,000 gallons of cider.

Last year, fewer apples were donated — although some of the 2020 backyard blend is still on tap at the cider house. Over the two years, more than $2,000 has been raised, she said.

Despite a hard growing year, Deal is hopeful 2021 will see more donations than last year.

An early frost in October and a big snowstorm in May hampered many fruit trees from producing much fruit, Deal said.

“A lot of the people I called from the first year saying, ‘hey, we’re doing this again,’ are saying they just don’t have fruit this year,” she said. “There’s fruit around, but it’s more spotty.”

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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