After being dumped both personally and professionally I started to investigate volunteering opportunities and Not Far from the Tree was one of the first that came to mind. I shot the photos of the fruit harvest for a story for Torontoist years ago and it was always something I wanted to do but never found the time.
I have lots of time now.
Not Far from the Tree is a brilliant program that rescues fruit in the city. Throughout Toronto there are many fruit trees in backyards of homes and once the fruit ripens there is no way a homeowner can make use of it all of it, especially when it can be hundreds of pounds.
Volunteers go to the homes and pick the fruit and it is divided three ways. One third of the fruit harvest goes to the volunteer, another to the homeowner and the third is delivered by bicycle to a community organization with a food program such as food banks, shelters and food kitchens.
This year over 10,000 lbs have been rescued.
With over 2000 volunteer hours, a lot of fruit has been picked so far: sweet cherries, sour cherries, mulberries, service berries, apricots, plums, grapes, crab apples, elderberries, sumac, pears and apples. Prior to Not Far from the Tree all of this was going to waste.
Last week I picked apples and this week I have picked over 70lbs of concord grapes. I have never been one for manual labour but I love getting the email that a tree needs to be picked. This is the first time in a long time where I feel like I am really doing something great for someone other than myself.
But this doesn’t come without reward, I have two giant bags of concord grapes and I need to do something with them. I heard they make great jam and now I just need to figure out how to do that.
It’s going to be an interesting Fall.