Fruit Tree Projects across Canada are tackling the problem of food waste in our own backyards.
Those fruit trees in our backyards can be a fabulous source of fresh, healthful food for family, friends or food banks. The bounty from backyard fruit trees can sometimes go to waste when fruit doesn’t get picked when it’s ripe, or there’s just too much fruit for one family to use when things ripen all at once.
Fruit Tree Projects are a form of urban gleaning: picking a crop, especially the part of a crop that might have previously gone to waste while connecting this food with individuals in need.
Fruit Tree Projects are non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers to pick the fruit. A common model of harvest sharing for these food recovery groups is one-third of produce for home-owner, one-third of produce goes to volunteer pickers and one-third goes to a local organization that can use food. The Halton Food Tree Project has donated rescued produce to organizations like Refresh Foods For Life and given 5000 apples to a farm to school food program.
The first Fruit Tree Project was founded in Victoria B.C. in 1998, LifeCycles Project Society . This community organization focuses on initiatives that create urban sustainability and food security solutions and has grown to provide projects that promote growing food and cooking healthy affordable meals.
Fruit Tree Projects can be found across Canada with large cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal having recovery/gleaning groups. Fruit Tree projects can also be found in smaller communities like Nelson B.C.
The benefits of Fruit Tree Projects include reducing food waste, improving access to local food, building community, knowledge sharing and addressing climate change. As an example to highlight the positive impact of these programs in Victoria, LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project harvests between 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of produce from privately owned trees that would otherwise go to waste. Toronto’s fruit tree project, Not Far from the Tree estimates that is approximately 1.5 million pounds produced by Toronto’s urban canopy and most goes unpicked.
With over 4 million individuals in Canada experiencing food insecurity, these local solutions can create opportunities and positive impacts in our communities.
If do not have a Fruit Tree project in your community, you may want to start one, LifeCycles has produced an informative guide on how to start a Fruit Tree Project .
If you have fruit trees that may go to waste consider contacting your local “Fruit Tree Project” .Or if you are looking for a rewarding volunteer experience for the whole family volunteer to pick fruit.
Fruit is a valuable natural resource that is too good to waste.