Rescuing fallen fruit
Have you ever noticed how much fruit lies unused below our city’s fruit trees?
Adrian Buckley has. And the 29-year-old environmental planner is doing something about it.
“A friend of mine lives in the northeast and going to and from his place, I noticed how many fruit trees there were in the neighbourhood and then I’d look below the trees at what was on the ground,” Buckley says. “I wondered how much local fruit in Calgary is going to waste?”
He started researching what could be done to put this fallen fruit to good use and discovered Edmonton and Toronto both have successful initiatives — but Calgary didn’t.
Toronto’s program, Not Far From the Tree, saved more than 3,500 kilograms of fruit just this year.
Buckley started doing his homework to start a program called Calgary Fallen Fruit Rescue.
“I went around on my bike and rode slowly and whenever I saw a fruit tree in someone’s yard that didn’t look like it was being used, I wrote down the address,” Buckley says.
While mapping the neighbourhood’s fruit trees, he dropped cards into the homeowners’ mailboxes, providing instructions on how to participate.
If a homeowner wants to take part, they’re asked to confirm their address online or by phone. They’re also given the choice to keep one-third of the harvested fruit, while another third goes to the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank and the final third goes to Fallen Fruit volunteers.
“What’s wonderful about the program is it’s taking food that otherwise would go to waste and getting it to people who need it,” Buckley says.
He notes many people don’t have the physical ability to harvest their own fruit, so Fallen Fruit Rescue can be their saving grace.
“There are a lot of people in this city who can make good use of these apples,” he says.
Buckley piloted the program this fall in Hillhurst, Sunnyside and Crescent Heights.
“This year I wanted to keep it very small because I wanted to see how much work it would be.” Buckley says.
On Oct. 4, six volunteers tackled one large tree for 90 minutes and gathered more than 90 kilograms of apples. It was snowing that day and — as we all know — the weather never improved, so the group had to abandon further harvests.
Still, Buckley has big dreams for the program: next year he hopes to collect more than 2,000 kilograms of fruit and get community associations involved.
“There are so many types of fruit in this city, it’s amazing,” he says, noting saskatoons, sea buckthorn, cherries and even pears grow in Calgary.
And let’s not forget about crab apples. “That’s probably the dominant fruit tree in the city and it all goes to waste,” Buckley says.
He’d like to see our city’s abundance of crabapples be turned into jam, jelly and applesauce.
As the program gets bigger, Buckley will create a GPS map of fruit trees for harvest.
“I’m dedicating my life to a society where things don’t get wasted,” Buckley says.
Indeed, he’s starting his own company called Big Sky Permaculture, through which he will offer sustainable landscape design and planning.
What do volunteers do with all those apples they get to keep?
“There’s already been a couple apple pies made this year,” Buckley quips.
egilchrist [at] theherald [dot] canwest [dot] com
Donate your fallen fruit
If you’d like to contribute next year’s harvest from your fruit trees to the Calgary Fallen Fruit Rescue program, call 403-483-9787 or visit bigskypermaculture.ca/fruitrescue and click on the “Share your fruit” tab.