Monday, August 09, 2010

Urban Orchards

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It's right about this time of year that those with fruit trees and gardens in the Northern Hemisphere tend to get overwhelmed by homegrown abundance. We've already featured Giapo Gelato's effort to claim some of that locally grown produce for use in its ice cream, and recently one of our spotters alerted us to Not Far from the Tree, an even more ambitious effort in Toronto.

Not Far from the Tree operates a residential fruit-picking program that aims to prevent locally grown fruit from going to waste. Toward that end, it sends teams of volunteers to harvest the fruit on trees whose owners are not inclined to do so themselves. Of the resulting bounty, one-third goes to the owner, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour and the final third is distributed via pedal power to charities and community organizations in the neighbourhood. The project harvested more than 3,000 pounds of residential fruit back in 2008, followed by more than 8,000 pounds last year; so far, close to 2,000 pounds of cherries, mulberries and plums have been picked this year. Coming this winter from the nonprofit group is a like-minded pilot project to tap residential maple trees and then boil down the sap into maple syrup.

With benefits for landowners and urban dwellers alike, Not Far from the Tree seems to have found one of those rare concepts without any visible downside. One to emulate in the residential gardens in your neck of the woods...?

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