FirstFruits Marketing wants the public to vote on youth-oriented projects in FirstFruits’ Opal Youth Make a Difference Initiative.

FirstFruits seeks public votes on youth projectsIn its second year, the initiative is a way for the Yakima, Wash.-based grower-owned tree fruit marketer to financially support youth-led projects concerning food security and politics, nutrition and agriculture.

Growers fund the programs through a portion of sales from each case of Opal-branded apples, according to a news release.

This year, the initiative plans to provide $75,000 compared to $50,000 in grants in 2013, according to the release.

FirstFruits has narrowed the 80 grant applications it has received to 13 semifinalists.

The month of public voting includes projects involving youth-led gardens and market stands, programs for special needs kids and Latino farmworker youth, an aquaponics farm and a healthy eating program, according to the release.

“It is really wonderful to see all of the projects these kids are involved in, and how they are making a difference in their communities” Keith Mathews, FirstFruits’ chief executive officer, said in the release. “I am inspired by each of their stories; it is always difficult to make a final decision when you want to fund them all so we needed to put it to a vote!”

The public can vote at

FirstFruits is the exclusive North American marketer of the Opal variety apple.