Should good, fresh food go to waste when people are hungry? That’s the question Barrie’s FruitShare program is answering with a resounding “No” by connecting fruit growers wondering what to do with their surplus harvest with volunteer pickers. The growing team of volunteers pick the fruit from trees in private backyards and on public property, and then share it between the tree owners, the volunteers and various community groups.
The harvest is split three ways:
is offered to the tree owner
is shared among the volunteers
is donated to the food bank, shelters, and community kitchens
in the neighbourhood including the David Busby Centre,
the Women and Children’s Shelter, Redwood Park Communities
and the Barrie Native Friendship Centre.
Volunteers also use some of the harvest to make jam, which is subsequently donated to the agencies as well as to school breakfast clubs.
“There’s a huge need in Barrie for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption,” says program co-ordinator Jenna Zardo, adding FruitShare Barrie encourages people to follow the advice of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit in eating more fruits to stay healthy and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Sometimes homeowners view their fruit as a nuisance. Fallen fruit litters the lawn and attracts animals and insects. But what if the fruit could instead be a valuable community resource?
Barrie has hundreds of trees that could be a valuable source of food for those in need. FruitShare Barrie has modeled their program after many other fruit sharing programs across North America.
“We help homeowners by dealing with the fruit and through our partnered tree service program in which Timberjack Tree Service offers reduced cost pruning services for home owners who have shared fruit,” Zardo said.
The program started as a project of Living Green, formally Environmental Action Barrie, Barrie’s environmental charity. It’s part of an Urban Pantry, a larger group that focuses on urban agriculture and community food security. FruitShare is one piece of the community food security pie, along with community gardens and food skills workshops.
In addition to sharing the bounty of fruit, children learn about the value of local food and the environment through a school program. The FruitShare team hosts workshops on local food literacy and schoolground greening initiatives. Each session includes two to four fruit trees to be planted on school property. Apple or pear is recommended with fall ripening dates, so students can harvest the fruit during the school year.
And there’s more! A “food forest” is in the making with 30 fruit trees planted in Shear Park. “We’re saving fruit from going to waste. If we didn’t pick it, it would fall to the ground. Homeowners often can’t get to it at all.” “We’re only scratching the surface of what’s out there,” Zardo concluded.
Types of Fruit Picked:
Tree owners, volunteers and schools can sign up at www.fruitsharebarrie.ca/get-involved/
Sponsors, call 705-715-2255 or visit FruitShare.Barrie@gmail.com
by Robin MacLennan