Category Archives: Food Security

Freshly Picked: Media Spotlight on the VFTP

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We’re always excited when the VFTP is profiled in local media, as we were in the Vancouver Sun back in July, when Randy Shore investigated “What to Do With Your Excess Garden Bounty”. For those of you who speak French, you can also listen to Rosalind share the Fruit Tree Project story on Radio-Canada. And for those of you interested in learning about other food recovery initiatives around the world, be sure to check out this article in The Guardian!

VFTP Presents: Just Eat It – A Food Waste Story

The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project presents a documentary screening of:

Just Eat It Poster

Click on poster to view an enlarged version

Just Eat It – A Food Waste Story
Date: Friday June 5, 2015
Time: 7:30pm
Location: 1655 William Street – Grandview Woodland Community Place
Donation @ Door: Suggested $5-15 Per Person
Also: Food, Drinks, Prizes, Community Partners
For more information or To RSVP

Synopsis: Just Eat It is a 74-minute documentary film about food waste and food rescue by Peg Leg Films, in partnership with British Columbia’s Knowledge Network. We all love food. As a society, we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. So how could we possibly be throwing nearly 50% of it in the trash? And what are the environmental and societal impacts!

Film Awards Include:
– VIFF Impact Award – Vancouver International Film Festival
– Emerging Canadian Filmmaker & Top 20 Audience Choice – Hot Docs
– Best Canadian Documentary – Edmonton International Film Festival
– Best Canadian Feature – Planet in Focus
– Best Environmental Film – Sedona International Film Festival

Creative Peaches in Paris

In Paris, a city with a climate much like Vancouver’s, a 300 hectare maze of walls and agricultural plots, established during the 1600s, provided a unique and unlikely microclimate to grow peaches. A fruit normally more suited for warmer weather climates thrived on the 3 meter high walls that were more than half a meter thick and coated in locally sourced limestone plaster, enabling the type of heat that peaches flourish in. The intentional north-south orientation of these plots allowed solar energy to be stored in the walls during the day and transmitted to the trees during the night, preventing them from freezing and accelerating the ripening process, temperatures were typically 8 to 12 °C higher than outside.

peaches

Parisian ‘pêchers’ of Montreuil became famous within high society, even the Queen of England, the Prince of Wales and Russian Tsars came to the peach orchards of Montreuil to taste the unique varieties of Parisian peaches. Today all that is left are 17 km of deteriorating walls of the original 600km maze that was once the celebrated “Murs à pêches”. There are, however, local associations and organisations fighting for the protection and resurrection of the historic farming culture within Paris.

Vancouver is looking at ways to expand food production within its boundaries; one example is the cities mandate to plant more public fruit trees. With urban agriculture becoming an increasingly viable alternative source of food for cities across the world, looking back at projects like these with such initiative and innovation is inspiring. We need to be creative and imaginative in our solutions to increasing food security and this project shows that 400 years ago, well before modern day technology, there were simple unique answers being implemented.

Adapted from Messy Nessy Chic.

A Reflection on the 2013 Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Season

Having just returned from the last Vancouver Fruit Tree Project fundraising workshop of the season, an apple and pear tree-pruning workshop with fruit tree expert Richard Hallman, it seems timely to reflect on the last few months as we wind down for the winter months.

What a marvelous season 2013 turned out to be! After the big curveball that hit us at the start of the year when we lost our major source of funding, it was so heartening to see everyone pull together and work so hard to make 2013 our second best season ever.  5,341 pounds of fruit harvested over 72 fruit picks!

I would like to extend a huge “thank you” to everyone who volunteered for us this season, from the fruit pickers, the pick leaders, to everyone who helped at our outreach events as well as everyone who came to our season kick-off party, anyone who brought a raffle ticket or made a prize donation. We couldn’t have done it without you! Also, thanks to our tree owners for your continued support and your lovely fruit. All the fruit that is donated to our recipients in our community is hugely appreciated – any pick leader who delivers the fruit at the end of the pick can vouch for that!

Board Vice President Jenn on the door at our season kick-off at Rhizome

 

I’d also like to thank the board and advisory committee who work really hard behind the scenes to keep things running efficiently. Over half the board was brand new to the project this season, and they all certainly hit the ground running as did our 2013 Season Coordinator, Shannon Lambie. Shannon started with us later in the season than we would have liked to due to our funding situation, but she worked diligently to mean we were able to respond to all but a couple of calls from tree owners.

There were many highlights for me this season. The first picks I did were two massive apple trees where three of us picked for hours in the hot sunshine to end up with nearly 300 pounds of wonderful apples, which we delivered to the Downtown Eastside Womens’ Centre.

Picking With Ladder

 

Boxes Of Apples

 

Another apple pick soon followed, where a large group of volunteers picked seven ‘Isaac Newton’ apple trees on the roundabout near the Triumf research facility at UBC. These trees are said to descend from the very tree that Sir Isaac was sitting under at ‘that’ famous moment! Reforestation company Brinkman & Associates were kind enough to lend us their pick up truck for part of the season, and that certainly came in very handy for this pick, transporting lots of equipment, people and several boxes of apples which were delivered to the Britannia Centre and Aids Vancouver Grocery programme.

Triumf Pick Group Photo

 

Board member Erica looking very impressed with our Isaac Newton pick stats!

Board member Erica looking very impressed with our Isaac Newton pick stats!

Group apple pick at Triumf

Group apple pick at Triumf

Another pick that stood out for me was one within walking distance of my house! Shannon had put out the call for pick leaders for a grape pick, and when I saw the address was a stones throw from where I lived, I signed up right away. My partner came along, and we were also joined by a volunteer and her daughter to help with the pick. We are one of the few organizations who have volunteer opportunities for children.  One of our missions is to build community and promote a sense of neighbourliness, and this pick was a wonderful example of that. The homeowner told us about her years spent as a cookery teacher in Taiwan, and let us taste some wonderful grape jam she had made from the very vine we were picking. We harvested almost 100 pounds of grapes that were then delivered a few blocks away to the Enhanced Living Society.

East Side Grape Pick

East Side Grape Pick

As we are a small organization, our operating costs each year are very modest, running at approximately $13,000 per year. This is a very small outgoing considering all the great benefits we bring:

– We redirect thousands of pounds of fresh local fruit, free from pesticides that would otherwise rot in the landfill, and instead bring it to those in our community who might not otherwise have access to such nutritious food.

– We help build a sense of community and promote neighbourliness, bringing together people from all walks of life across the city.

– We help educate around the subject of food security and food preservation through our canning workshops and outreach talks in schools and at various events through the harvest season.

We have some grand plans for next year, as 2014 will be our 15th Anniversary! We are also hoping to expand to harvest trees that are on public land, as well as get a pruning social enterprise off the ground to help care for our existing legacy of fruit trees across Vancouver.

While we’re now winding down for the winter, with just a couple of grant applications to get in, watch this space when we start ramping up again next Spring, and keep an eye open for some of our fundraising initiatives next year. We look forward to fruit picking with you again in 2014!

To close, here’s a photo of me from the last pick of the season, and our most unusual fruit picked this year: mini kiwi fruit!

Have a great winter everyone, and see you next year!

Lin Gardiner, Board President, Vancouver Fruit Tree Project

Lin

 

 

Student project on Urban Fruit Tree Projects

Revealing the Hidden Harvest:  Prospects and Challenges for Urban Fruit Tree Projects is a student paper written by Bonnie Barlett. It identifies a gap in academic literature about urban fruit trees and the role they play in urban agriculture. Great job, Bonnie!

Summary:

Urban fruit trees provide an opportunity to scale up urban agriculture and food security that remains largely unrealized. Fruit tree projects, organizations that coordinate harvest and redistribute urban fruit, are one of the only types of organizations working to utilize urban fruit. This report identifies fruit tree project operating models and determines what practices and policies will help secure long-term project stability and sustainability. Untended fruit trees on both public and private land can be a nuisance and potentially result in injuries. Fruit tree projects ensure that registered fruit trees are harvested and that they are used to their full potential. There are now 21 fruit tree projects in Canada and many more in the U.S. but there is no academic literature about fruit tree projects and a limited body of literature about urban fruit trees and the role they play in urban agriculture.

Read the full report: Hidden Harvest – Urban Fruit Tree Projects