In this week’s Eye Weekly, I wrote about a new organization starting this summer called Not Far From the Tree. The brainchild of fruit tree enthusiast Laura Reinsborough (who says she got the idea from similar projects successful in other cities), Not Far From the Tree’s â€œaim is to match volunteer fruit pickers with fruit tree owners who don’t have the time to harvest their trees’ bounty. One third of the fruit will go to the owners; another third will go to the volunteers and the remainder will be donated to local community organizations, such as food banks and shelters.â€
You can read the full story here.
I interviewed Laura and Heritage Horticulturalist Wendy Woodworth a couple weekends ago at Spadina Museum on one of the first warm days of spring. Laura first got hooked on the idea of harvesting fruit grown in the city after volunteering to pick fruit grown in the heritage gardens at the museum last summer. Each weekend, she would bike the bounty over to the Green Barns Farmers Market to sell for nominal price. But making money wasn’t really the point.
â€œIt was more or less an educational tool, to show people what organically, or neglectfully, grown apples looked like. But also we have all these heritage varieties that people don’t normally see,â€ Wendy said. â€œIt also played into the historical aspect of the grounds where the family did sell the food.â€
Laura kept a blog of her experiences last summer, which is also now Not Far From the Tree’s website. The site is full of useful fruit-tree-related links, including links to organizations that have started similar urban fruit harvesting projects elsewhere. It also includes updates on Not Far From the Tree’s progress to date.
During our interview, Laura mentioned that she was interested in hearing about others’ experiences with fruit trees in the city.
â€œAt seedy Saturday, we had a booth and I was looking for fruit tree stories. About half the stories were, â€˜well my neighbour never harvests his pears and they just rot there and they stink and he won’t let you touch them!’ The other half were, â€˜oh I love to pick apples!’â€ she said.
Any Spacing readers have a fruit-tree-related story to share? A fear of falling apples? Failed efforts to grow lemons or pears? Animals that feast in your backyard? Attempts to eat neighbourhood apples? We’d love to hear them!