The time-lapse video above films an acorn germinating into a seedling. We can thank squirrels for taking care of the acorns that eventually drop from mature trees in the city, but what about the fruit trees? Not Far From the Tree is a tree and food friendly local non-profit organization that gathers fruit from Toronto trees when a homeowner is unable or simply can’t keep up with the fruit growing on the trees in their gardens. They “put Toronto’s fruit to good use by picking and sharing the bounty.” Volunteers pick the fruit which is then shared between the homeowner, the picker-volunteers and food banks, community kitchens and shelters. In their words, it’s a “win win win” situation. The organization has only three seasons of fruit harvest under its belt and has already picked over 30,000 pounds of fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste.
Serious about being stewards of the earth, all harvested fruit is transported by bicycle. 30,000 pounds fills a lot of bike baskets! Not Far From the Tree also educates the community with food preserving workshops, and tree care. They started harvesting maple syrup from Toronto trees this year, and helped to create Toronto’s first community orchard. They also partner with local food co-ops and community health centres in an effort to promote food security.
Local hero and agent of change, Laura Reinsborough got the idea for Not Far From the Tree when she was working at the Spadina Museum’s heritage orchard. She noticed that “There were so many fruit trees tucked away in neighbourhoods.” More often than not that fruit went to waste, rotting on the lawn or sidewalk. Her urge to change this state of affairs launched Not Far From the Tree.
You can register your tree for picking, or for syrup harvest on their website. You’ll find a sense of humour and style in their promotional materials, including a beautiful poster designed by volunteer designer Gregory Allen Elliot, and a syrup harvest t-shirt with the tongue-in-cheek slogan, “I’d tap that.” Another thing that really tickled me was this category on their calendar: “Other Events that Sound Really Cool.” Not Far From the Tree is cool through and through.