Archive: Jun 2013

  1. Volunteering to Pick Fruit

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    A Hidden Harvest Ottawa “Harvest Event” consists of a small group of volunteers picking fruit from one or two trees. All harvesting equipment is provided and the Lead Harvester will give you an run-through of how the harvest works at the beginning of each harvest. It usually takes about 2 hours to harvest one large tree.

    If you would like to pick fruit with us, here’s an overview of the process:

    Step 1: Sign up to Volunteer

    Complete our volunteer form and select “Harvester” as your preferred role.

    The volunteer form will ask you to select the areas of Ottawa you would prefer to harvest fruit in. Select a few wards where you live, work, and play, and then you will find out about any harvest events scheduled in those areas – often planned a week in advance.

    Step 2: Watch your Inbox

    When a harvest has been organized for your area, we will send you an email letting you know the date, time and approximate area of the harvest. If it is a harvest you are able & willing to attend then click on “Attend Event”.

    Step 3: Register for a Harvest

    Upon successful registration, you will immediately receive a confirmation email. This email contains essential details, such as the exact location of where the harvest is taking place. If you can’t make it afterall, please cancel your registration – your spot will be automatically offered to a waitlisted volunteer.

    Step 4: Attend the Harvest

    Let the fun begin! You must show up on time if you wish to receive a share of the harvest. The event will begin with instructions on safety, proper harvesting techniques, and a tidy of the area before the picking gets underway. More information on Harvest Events here.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Can I bring my child / friend / partner?

    We are seeking to find a balance between encouraging community and enabling everyone to have a chance to attend a harvest event. Presently, up to two spots in a harvest event can be reserved at once – a parent may sign up their child, or one friend can invite another friend – just ensure they have also signed up as a volunteer with us!

    Note: Children 15 and under are welcome, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Teens aged 15 to 18 must bring with them a copy of the waiver signed by a parent.

    Why are harvest events always full?   Why is there always a waiting list?

    If you are having trouble getting into a harvest event for your area, it is likely because we have not found enough trees to harvest in your neighbourhood. You can help by downloading and sharing our poster & leaflet with homeowners in your community who might have trees to harvest.

    I signed up to volunteer, why haven’t I heard from anyone?

    Not to worry, you’ve successfully signed up if you’ve seen the “Volunteer Sign-Up Confirmation” page. Hidden Harvest Ottawa is in it’s second year, and it will be a year of growth! We will be doing our best to respond to questions, but sometimes we are not able to respond individually to every one of our amazing 174 volunteer harvesters (and counting…)

  2. Eating food from urban trees?

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    Yes! You can eat urban fruit and nuts!

    More and more cities are jumping on board urban fruit and nut harvesting – Ottawa is by no means the first. Hidden Harvest has learned a lot from food rescue friends in Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Victoria, Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver –  just to name a few.

    Recently, a list of urban harvest organizations was compiled by Alternatives Journal and published here: A Taste of Canada’s Food-Tree Groups. Excerpt of organization listings, below.

    With increased consumption close to home,  we naturally wonder about the health of our soil and if we should be eating food growing in the city.  A tool we found useful is this decision support tool for urban garden published by Toronto Public Health. This report, Assessing Urban Impacted Soil for Urban Gardening: Decision Support Tool Technical Report and Rationale, says “…fruiting and nutting trees may be grown directly in contaminated soil, and are a good option for high risk gardens where raised beds or containers are not feasible”. Further discussion on this topic in our FAQ.

    When preparing harvested food to eat, it is important to follow normal food safety practices such as washing your hands and washing any fruit before eating it, cooking it or storing it.

    When harvesting fruit, we do not distribute or use fruit which has been found on the ground (sometimes called “grounders” or “windfall”). The only exception to this rule is when harvesting nuts that have husks and shells intact, protecting the edible nut meat inside.

    Urban Harvest Organizations

    Not Far From the Tree
    , founded in 2008, helps Toronto homeowners put their food-bearing trees to good use, splitting the bounty three ways: tree owners keep one third, volunteers share another, and the final third is delivered to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens by bicycle.

    St. John’s Fruit Tree Project was created in 2011 to connect fruit tree owners with volunteer pickers, community kitchens and food banks in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

    Mississauga Fruit Tree is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization based in Malton, Ontario, which has linked harvesters with backyard tree owners and offered tree care and food preparation programs since 2009.

    Fruit Share is a volunteer-led organization formed in 2010 to link fruit owners, volunteers and community groups to collect and share fruit from trees in Winnipeg and elsewhere in Manitoba.

    Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton is a non-profit established in 2009 that organizes volunteers to harvest, process and preserve apples, raspberries and other fruit. It also offers food-preserving events and produces fruit-based products.

    Harvest Rescue, operating since 1998 in Nelson, BC, and a project of the Nelson Food Cupboard and the Nelson Cares Society’s Earth Matters program, gathers excess food from farmers, gardeners and fruit tree owners and makes it available to social service agencies.

    The LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project, launched in Victoria in 1999 by non-profit LifeCycles, harvests fruit from privately owned trees, dividing the harvest among homeowners, volunteers, food banks and other community organizations, and processing some of the products for sale.

    The Central Okanagan Fruit Tree Project, started by a group of volunteers with the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council, demonstrates that even smaller municipalities can make urban foraging work!

    A Taste of Canada’s Food-Tree Groups: Urban foraging organizations across the country are feeding the needy – and more. Alternatives Journal, by A\J STAFF, May 2013.


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