Canada’s best urban harvest programs

[media-credit name=”” align=”aligncenter”]getty stewart[/media-credit]

Fruit Share Manitoba

It’s a warm summer evening in Winnipeg, and two women are deep into the branches of a sour Evans cherry tree. Perched on stepladders, they reach up, plucking off the ripe, plump, picture-perfect red fruit. Even though it is not their tree, they pick for several hours, sharing stories and swapping recipes to use the fruit.

The property owner, Wendy Barker, has welcomed them into her yard. She comes out from the kitchen with glasses of cold homemade cherry juice, squeezed from a previous glean. “This year produced a bumper crop,” she says. “We have more cherries than we can use or give away. There are even too many for the birds.” Refreshed after a long stretch of picking, the volunteers leave with buckets of fruit and the satisfaction of knowing the impressive yield won’t go to waste.

The pick was organized by Fruit Share Manitoba, one of many hyper-local urban harvest programs cropping up across Canada. The formula is very simple and often works as follows: Homeowners with unwanted fruit growing on their property connect to a local harvesting organization, which sends out a group of volunteer pickers. The harvest is divided up, usually into three: for the homeowner, the volunteers and a community organization in need.

Fruit Share founder Getty Stewart (pictured) is a self-described “instigator and initiator.” Educated as a home economist, she has worked in team building and proposal writing. But her passion is fruit. She loves growing it, picking it and eating it. So a few years ago, when the 44-year-old mother of two saw bags and bags of ripe apples packaged up curbside on a street near hers waiting for garbage collectors, she was incensed.

“I thought, how can we be letting all of this nutritious, delicious, free fruit go to waste?” she recalls, particularly when almost 900,000 Canadians rely on food banks every month. She knew she had to do something about it. She founded Fruit Share in 2010.

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