Category Archives: Volunteers

Year-End Digest 2015


On a dark December day, the delights of fresh summer fruit may feel like a distant memory. Nonetheless, as the end of year approaches, we wanted to take advantage of this time of reflection and transition to share some highlights of this past season with you, our valued community members.

First off, we would like to offer our sincerest thanks for your various forms of involvement and support this year. 2015 marked the 16th season of Fruit Tree Project operations, a year filled with growth and bounty. Despite the drought, we completed 51 picks this season and harvested 4175 pounds of backyard fruits to share with community members. These food waste recovery and community-building efforts were made possible because of the generosity and dedication of our pick leaders, volunteers, tree owners and community partners across Vancouver.
An Overview of 2015, By the Numbers:

  • 51 picks
  • 4715 lbs of fruit harvested
  • 4175 lbs of fruit donated; over 88% shared with community partners
  • 10 types of fruit: cherries, plums, pears, figs, Saskatoon berries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, grapes & quince
  • 12 active pick leaders; 6 newly trained in 2015
  • Over 1650 lbs picked by one pick leader
  • 137 casual volunteer opportunities created through picks
  • 75 distinct volunteers engaged
  • 180 tree owners in database
  • 3 canning workshops
  • 7 outreach events
  • 2 community events: ‘Just Eat It’ Film Screening and Dining from the Dumpster
  • 1 “Community Chest” partnership with Whole Foods
  • 18 prunes completed through the Pruning Social Enterprise

As in years past, our community partners shared our harvests with residents across Vancouver. Some of the organizations that most benefited from this partnership included Kits House, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Westside Family Place and Mt Pleasant Neighbourhood House. Partners used this fruit in meal programs, such as at the DTES Women’s Centre or Renfrew Collingwood Neighbourhood House, shared it fresh with families, as did Britannia Community Centre or Westside Family Place, or used it in some exciting capacity-building workshops, such as the “newcomers canning program” at South Van Neighbourhood House.


Fruit Tree Project supporters dive into a delicious meal crafted entirely from recovered food, as part of our “Dining from the Dumpster” season wrap-up event

As these numbers also show, this past season we welcomed dozens of new tree owners, volunteers and pick leaders, as well as continued to advocate for and promote food recovery efforts across the city. We are always looking to grow our network of tree owners and pick leaders, so please continue sharing the Fruit Tree Project story, even in the off-season! Our tree pruning social enterprise also blossomed this year, and is still available for dormant pruning jobs. You, our supporters, underpinned all of these achievements. If this is work you would like to see grow in your neighbourhood, please consider making a donation to support our ongoing efforts.

Last but not least, we are currently recruiting for new board members, to begin in April 2016. You can find the posting here. We are looking to welcome a variety of expertise and experience to the board, so please give the posting a look!

So thank you once again for your involvement this season, and we hope this holiday season is a restful and rejuvenating one, filled with nourishing food and community. We are immensely grape-ful for all of your support and look forward to more fruitful collaboration in 2016, as we continue building a more abundant and equitable local food system together!

With many warm regards,
Rosalind and the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Board

Help Grow the VFTP: Join our Board!

1250The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Society is seeking board members for our 2016/2017 season, the 17th year of the project. We are looking for individuals passionate about urban agriculture, food security and/or community building to sit on our Board.

At our next AGM, in April, we will be holding elections for four new directors, the position is for a two year term of office. The VFTP holds general monthly meetings, and director attendance is expected. There are no formal requirements for being a director, but we are looking for individuals with an interest and/or experience in areas such as:

  • Communications (including social media and web content)
  • Public Relations
  • Fundraising
  • Operations
  • Volunteer Management
  • Social Enterprise
  • Bookkeeping

Check out our posting on GoodWork or contact Clint at: for more information about the project and opportunities with the VFTP. We look forward to hearing from you and to another season of sharing the harvest with the Vancouver community!

Summer 2015 Newsletter


Curious to learn about what the VFTP has been up to this season? Craving all the news from the grapevine? Whether it was harvesting almost 250 lbs of grapes from one household (pictured above) or gleaning hundreds of pounds of apples from public trees, welcoming dozens of new volunteers or crafting fruit jellies with our community partners, it has certainly been a bountiful season! Be sure to check out the Summer 2015 newsletter here.

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




Meet the 2012 team!

One of the many great things about working with the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project (VFTP) is the people, and this year’s team is no exception! Meet this year’s enthusiastic group, below.

Hilda Leung

Hilda Leung joined the VFTP board in 2012. She was born and raised in Hong Kong and moved to Vancouver when she was nine. Hilda loves to travel, try new restaurants, and practice yoga. She’s constantly searching for new patios and rooftop bars on which to soak up the sun. Hilda is an audit manager at a public practice accounting firm and is excited to bring her bean-counting skills to VFTP as  Treasurer.

Ian Marcuse

Ian Marcuse is the community food developer for the Grandview-Woodland Food Connection and an advisory member to the Fruit Tree Project. “I love the fruit tree project. It is so simple yet nicely integrates two key food system issues – food waste recovery and food equity,” he says. Ian is particularly interested in the role that food plays in building more inclusive communities and through his work, focuses on projects that connect with harder-to-reach community members through engaging food projects.

Jenn upham

Jenn is passionate about food security. She keeps busy working for various non-profit organizations around Vancouver including the Vancouver Farmers Markets, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and the Firehall Arts Centre. In her spare time, Jenn enjoys festivals, photography, riding bikes, bee-keeping, growing vegetables at City Hall, planning adventures, and attempting to play the ukulele.

Julia Thiessen

Julia’s passion for connecting people to nature has come to fruition most recently with coordinating the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project. Through her work with the Environmental Youth Alliance, where she continues to work, she has found nature to be an ideal partner in providing what people need. Whether a place to de-stress, learn new skills, find inspiration or sustenance, nature provides! When not picking fruit, Julia can be found gardening, discovering new kale recipes, and teaching meditation.

Karen SawatZky

Karen learned of the joys of gleaning through a fruit tree project in another city. The community-building, practicality, thriftiness, and efficiency of the fruit tree project concept have appealed to her ever since, so she’s happy to have the chance to get involved with Vancouver’s version of this great idea. She’s also glad for the opportunity to contribute in a small way to making healthy food more accessible and Vancouver a more sustainable city.

Karly Pinch

Karly is a passionate environmentalist, with background in facilitation, organizational development, and program management. Having grown up around Vancouver, and graduated from UBC, she is excited to be involved with an organization that aims to connect food sources with community partners. Karly loves camping, biking, skiing, and relaxing on her Kits patio, and is a beginner gardener who loves seeing food grow!

Lin Gardiner

A music producer and sound designer by day, in her “spare” time, board member Lin Gardiner loves to help out the VFTP as she recognizes the growing importance of food security in today’s ever-fragile world. Lin has been with the VFTP since 2010, helping in a number of ways behind the scenes, from communications, to event planning and general support where needed! True to her name, Lin is also a keen gardener as she’s lucky enough to have a backyard in which to learn about growing food!

Sam Bradd

Sam has been a Board member with the VFTP since 2010. His work takes place mostly behind the scenes: web and graphic design, grant-writing, and wrangling paperwork. He’s finds Vancouver’s many food security projects exciting; he feels it’s rewarding that VFTP can rescue backyard fruit and donate it to different groups. He is an illustrator and graphic recorder whose art brings together communications, creativity, and community.

Emily Wight

Emily is a writer, editor, and communications manager who is enthusiastic about all things edible. She is a strong believer in locavorism, food accessibility, and community gardens. Since joining the VFTP in 2012, she’s been writing the group’s communications plan and trying to post as often as possible to the group’s social media profiles. She spends most of her days wrangling a very hungry (and subsequently very large) baby, and trying to figure out what’s for dinner.