From Australia to Winnipeg – by Pascale R

There’s a scary and growing trend where we consume and discard fruit and vegetables without a second thought to it. It’s so easily accessible to us, in grocery stores, in markets, at restaurants, that tossing it out is never a concern because we can easily replace it. This leads to a lot of wastage. How much is a lot? In Canada alone it’s 2.5 billion alone in fresh produce.

When I moved to Canada from Australia a couple of years ago, I wanted to get involved in the community and be part of a sustainable project. Our fresh produce wastage numbers are scary, but that’s nothing compared to the wastage that’s occurring in our own backyards without us even realizing it.

As the seasons progressed, I was amazed at the amount of local, fresh fruit we have available to us. And that’s not including the grocery stores. Rhubarb sprouted up in our yard as a surprise to both myself and my husband and promptly turned into a weed. The rather plain looking tress in our back yard burst into blossom in spring and then hung heavy with juicy apples in fall. Our neighbours constantly invited us over to pick from the wild cherry trees whose fruit they couldn’t keep up with.

Along our street, other apple trees dropped their fruit to rot and waste. We picked and froze our rhubarb and palmed it off to everyone we could but eventually that too got out of hand and went to waste. I couldn’t believe that we had beautiful apples rotting on our lawn and there were still people who went hungry in the city.

Enter the wonderful efforts of Fruit Share Manitoba. Fruit Share is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to picking, sharing and enjoying fresh fruit growing in backyards throughout Manitoba.

I joined Fruit Share because I wanted to be a part of the effort that attempted to stop some of excessive waste of fresh produce we see in Canada. Initially I like the idea of going on picks, experiencing authentically fruit and blogging about. The more I became involved and learned about their initiatives, the more excited I got.

At Fruit Share you can sign up to go on fruit picks or have your excess fruit pick. For example, if my apple trees were getting out of hand, I could send an alert to Fruit Share. They would then send out notice out to the members who would then come and pick my extra fruit. And while I had an excess of apples, perhaps I would like to help someone out by collecting their fruit like apricots or even grapes? It’s the simplest concept and yet it has a profound impact of the community. Last year we saved 10798 pounds. Many people got involved and so did other organizations that used the fruit to help out those in need.

Each year we continue to grow. As the snow begins to melt and the days get longer, I cannot wait to see Fruit Share continue to thrive in 2014 and I cannot wait for all the delicious prairie fruit!