Here is a post submitted by Laurel Atkinson, former staff member at Not Far From the Tree
I never considered myself to be a Big City gal, preferring to spend my time traversing rivers in Northern Ontario rather than sipping cappuccinos on packed patios. But there was something magical that helped transform my perception of city life. I was suddenly able to see nature everywhere, rather than in the northern wilds. And it all started in a stranger's backyard.
I began working at Not Far From The Tree, Toronto's very own fruit-picking project, four years ago. The very idea of fruit trees existing in the heart of Canada's biggest city seemed like an awkward idea to me at first. But once you see a fruit tree, an enchanted world opens. Suddenly, you're blessed with a pair of "fruit goggles" that transform how you see your city. With my fruit goggles on, I was now spying grapevines in alleyways, pear trees in parks, and cherry pits on the sidewalks. Blossoms no longer heralded simply the beginning of Spring, but rather the promise of an upcoming bounty.
Another thing was evident - most of this perfectly edible fruit was going to waste. We have become so disconnected from our food system that the apple tree in a backyard is seen as a nuisance, rather than a blessing. When you add to the fact that so many folks live on fixed incomes and are unable to purchase all the fresh fruits and vegetables that they need to be healthy, such a waste seems even more senseless.
Not Far From The Tree connects with homeowners who have a fruit tree to share. Once a tree is registered, volunteers are sent to a tree to harvest the bounty when the time is right. Volunteer gleaners leave with a portion of the fruit, pick some for the homeowner, and donate the rest to a local community kitchen or food bank. It's a win-win-win situation!
Peterborough Gleans has just launched a new initiative, Tree for the Picking. This amazing program shares similarities with Not Far From The Tree. Tree for the Picking invites homeowners to share their fruit tree harvest with folks in our community. Sometimes, a homeowner is unsure if their fruit is edible, because an apple on their tree doesn't look like an apple in the store. Except for Snow White, I've never heard of a poison apple before. Even fruit that isn't perfect for eating can still be processed or canned. Tree for the Picking has insurance, making sure that the homeowner isn't liable for any accidents. But even better, their volunteers also receive training!
So, if you are looking out your window right now, and are spying a Spring blossom, please consider registering your tree with Tree for the Picking, and spread a little fruit-love in your community.