Not Far From the Tree is a non-profit fruit harvesting organization in Toronto that has grown rapidly since its first season in 2008. They now have over 700 volunteer harvesters from the community that pick and distribute thousands of pounds of fruit and nuts each year (almost 20,000 pounds in 2010!). They have received numerous awards for their efforts, one of which was the City Soul Award. This clip gives a brief background of Not Far From the Tree. From the video description:
“Not Far From The Tree has received the City Soul Award at the 2010 Urban Leadership Awards, which is an annual initiative of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) designed to recognize those who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Canada’s cities and urban regions.
In 2008, Laura Reinsborough noticed scores of fruit-producing trees in her own neighbourhood. It seemed that most fruit ended up falling and rotting, becoming a nuisance and possibly a liability to the homeowner’s yard they littered. Knowing that there were many people within her community who lacked access to wholesome, local, and fresh fruit, such waste seemed even more inexplicable. Laura decided that it only made sense to connect perfectly edible fruit to those in need, and thus created Not Far From The Tree.
Not Far From The Tree’s core programming is their residential fruit-picking program, in which they connect with willing homeowners to harvest such forgotten fruit and then share it. The introduction of preserving and canning workshops has also helped to preserve local fruit past the harvest season, and connects people with the skills needed to do so, while building community in neighbourhood kitchens.
To date, the picking program has resulted in 11,000 pounds of fruit over two years being picked, with more than 3,600 pounds being donated. In 2011, the harvest will be even more expansive, and will include cherries, serviceberries, mulberries, apricots, plums, apples, pears, grapes, ginko nuts, walnuts, and acorns. Much of the work is accomplished by volunteers.
Not Far From the Tree also partnered with Growing for Green to help create Toronto’s first community orchard; and collaborates with numerous environmental and social justice-centred organizations to not only strengthen networks and relationships within the community, but also to bring together organizations previously operating independently of each other. They connect tree stewardship, land development issues, food justice, and social justice together in the simple act of picking, eating, sharing, and enjoying Toronto’s bounty.
Not Far From the Tree’s beauty lies in its simplicity: connect people to the urban orchard, connect them to each other, and connect them to their food. And to make sure to have fun while doing it!”