Opinion Column

FruitShare program only scratching the surface

By Erich Jacoby-Hawkins

"The most natural food is fruit" - Anonymous

You may not realize it, but our city is full of farmers, and you may be one of them!

The No. 1 urban crop is fruit, particularly apples, and you'd be amazed by the amount of apples that grow in our backyards.

FruitShare has managed to pick as many as 5,000 pounds in a single season, and we're just scratching the surface.

The whole FruitShare team is so excited to be working with our amazing volunteers and tree owners this summer; we know from experience everyone will find it a rewarding experience.

Though we are not picking a lot of fruit right now, we are working to get ready for what we anticipate will be a busy season. We want to keep you updated on our planning and preparation activities.

We need more fruit tree owners.

Several tree owners from last year have reported that their trees did not fare well this spring: very few blossoms if any and bleak possibilities of fruit on those trees. But every back yard is its own micro-climate and local ecology; in past years, while some trees did poorly, others thrived.

Please consider whether you have friends, family or neighbours with fruit trees that just need to know about our program so that they can get involved. The Barrie community has hundreds of trees that yet could be a valuable source of fresh, local, healthy food for those who need it.

Registration for tree owners is simple and straight forward at our website www.FruitShareBarrie.ca.

You can easily sell people on the benefits: we clean up all the fallen fruit, clear as much of the ripe fruit from the tree as we can reach, and have a special deal with a professional arborist who will provide free advice and discounted help improving their trees.

This harvest season, we are going to have 'designated pick days'. Our hope is that this will help to make our planning more efficient, and allow both tree owners and volunteer pickers the ability to anticipate when their efforts might be needed.

For this summer and fall we are going to make Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays our pick days, and will plan tree harvests on these days. We always work to give as much notice as possible before the pick date for everyone's convenience.

Volunteers can also register at www.FruitShareBarrie.ca and communicate what days they would prefer to pick on. From there, we will plan to have teams of volunteers designated to these specific days.

If you like face-to-face contact, we invite you come meet us at the Barrie Farmers' Market, this Saturday, July 16. We are bringing a table display and bushel-baskets full of energy, and will be sharing information about the Barrie FruitShare program to the patrons there.

We wish to thank the community for all the support and work to make this program great. We could not do it without you! And with your help, we can rescue even more fruit this year.

Our goal is to see not a single tree go unpicked, not a bushel of food wasted and you can help us meet that goal.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins serves on the boards of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. Read and comment on this and other Root Issues at www.ErichtheGreen.ca



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