Have you ever wondered what fruit tree owners in urban areas like Toronto do with all that bountiful fruit? I hadn’t given it much thought until I was introduced to Not Far From The Tree (NFFTT), a project that has been “giving back to the community, one fruit at time” since 2008. Soon after I learned of NFFTT, I discovered that fruit tree projects have been springing up all over Canada since the first one was started in Victoria, B.C in 1998.
According to Not Far From The Tree, Toronto’s fruit trees produce approximately 1.5 million pounds of fruit each year, much of which would end up going uneaten or finding its way to the landfill. In addition to tackling Canada’s food waste problem — a report by Value Chain Management International Inc. estimates that Canadians waste $31 billion of food every year, 47% wasted in the home—fruit tree projects like Not Far From The Tree go a long way towards addressing food insecurity in Canada.
According to Daily Bread Food Bank’s 2016 Who’s Hungry report, 12.6 per cent of Toronto households (one in eight) experienced food insecurity in 2015. Not Far From The Tree shares the harvest with the food banks, community kitchens, and shelters that Torontonians rely on each year.
The program works quite simply: homeowners register their trees, volunteers are mobilized to pick the fruit, and the bounty is shared three ways amongst the homeowner, the volunteers, and local food and shelter agencies.
Since its inception, volunteers at Not Far From The Tree have harvested over 148,000 pounds of fruit from Toronto’s urban orchard. The response from volunteers has been remarkable with hundreds of volunteers eager to help each picking season. Learn more about volunteering with Not Far From The Tree, or consider starting a fruit tree project in your city.
Not Far From The Tree is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform, which supports on-the-ground efforts to create uncommon solutions for the common good. Tides Canada is a national Canadian charity dedicated to a healthy environment, social equity, and economic prosperity.
Allison is a citizen arborist, travel fiend, amateur birder, and baseball nut who lives in Toronto with her husband and their two dogs, Buster and Fox.