In many of the larger cities across Canada, there are programs whereby fruit is harvested and redistributed from the yards of residents. Many of these programs are well established and quite sophisticated in their operation. Each program is unique and operates under its own name.
For several years there was a notion that many fruit trees and shrubs were growing in the backyards of Yorkton with the fruit not being used. Last year Assiniboine Food Security Alliance (AFSA) decided to find out if there was fruit growing in residents’ yards that was surplus or just not being harvested for some reason. So AFSA started a project called Grow ‘N’ Share.
Grow ‘N’ Share was overwhelmed with requests to come and get fruit not being utilized by homeowners. In 2012 over 800 lbs. of unwanted apples, cherries, crab apples, raspberries and rhubarb were collected by volunteers that were then shared with those wanting the fruit. Last year’s experience resulted in so much fruit collected that a few modifications were necessary for the current growing season.
The project works like this. A homeowner who expects to have unwanted or surplus fruit contacts Grow ‘N’ Share to register their fruit tree, shrub or perennial and to provide other details. The co-ordinator of Grow ‘N’ Share recruits volunteer pickers and gets them organized to harvest the fruit when the time is right for picking. The harvested fruit is then shared between the homeowner (if desired), the picker and organizations or individuals in need of fruit.
Homeowners must register their fruit trees in advance of the expected harvest date. This helps to ensure that the volunteer pickers can be recruited and available when the fruit is ready to pick. Due to the tremendous amount of unwanted fruit, Grow ‘N’ Share is simply not able to respond to homeowners on short notice who have not registered.
Since fruit is perishable, Grow ‘N’ Share needs to ensure that the fruit is picked and shared with others in a timely manner so that the quality is retained. In order for this to happen, Grow ‘N’ Share relies on the co-operation of homeowners, fruit pickers and recipients of the fruit.
Volunteer pickers are needed as they are a key component for this project to function. Anyone interested in being a volunteer picker is encouraged to contact the Grow ‘N’ Share co-ordinator to get involved so that they can help harvest the fruit and acquire fruit for their own needs if they wish.
Anyone wanting fresh, delicious, home-grown fruit for fresh eating or preserving is also asked to call Grow ‘N Share.
Grow ‘N’ Share is a lot of fun for those who get involved. Relationships are built and quality fruit is collected and utilized. This contributes to AFSA’s vision of food security that “all are living well with the gift of good food” for Yorkton and area residents.
For further information or to find out how to get involved in Grow ‘N’ Share contact the co-ordinator at 306-783-4071.