Letter to the Editor: Fruit Share Then & Now

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Dear Fruit Share Members,

In Spring 2010, with the help of a few friends and family, Fruit Share began rescuing surplus fruit growing in backyards in South Osborne. By the end of the summer, my phone was ringing non-stop. It was clear that Winnipeg loved the idea of rescuing and sharing fruit. It was also clear that I would not be able to manage the volume of calls on my own on my home phone.

The first Fruit Share Post May 2010
The first post on Fruit Share’s first blog – May 2010.

In anticipation of greater demand in 2011, I started writing funding applications to ensure Fruit Share would be able to operate more efficiently with the necessary basics like insurance, a phone line, a logo, and a website. The Winnipeg Foundation saw the value in the idea and had confidence in Fruit Share’s goal to grow and rescue more fruit in more parts of the city. Their grant ensured our basic start-up costs were covered. Furthermore, it enabled us to hire our very first Summer Coordinator, Sagan Morrow, who continues to volunteer with Fruit Share.

Since then we were fortunate to receive two other grants from the Winnipeg Foundation through a partnership with Food Matters. We’ve also received funding for specific projects from places such as the United Way (Harvest Management System), Manitoba Alternative Food Research Alliance (Support for Rural Fruit Share groups) and the Assiniboine Credit Union (workshops and public education). I am forever grateful to these organizations who gave Fruit Share the support it needed to get off the ground, experiment with best practices, and figure out how to rescue and share fruit.

319 devon ave sept 6 2011 apples3

This year will mark the fifth year of harvesting and sharing fruit. As I look back, I am amazed, thrilled, and overwhelmed at the support Fruit Share has received and at all the fruit that’s been rescued. Together with Fruit Share Steinbach and Fruit Share Brandon, we’ve shared over 40,000 lbs of fruit. That’s something we can all be proud of.

As we head into our fifth year, I think it’s time for Fruit Share to take steps towards standing on its own legs. I’ve always believed that Fruit Share should not rely on other organizations to support it forever. To be truly successful and ensure that we can continue without hesitation, we must find ways to become financially self- sustainable.

This thought has been with me since day one, and I know the Advisory Team has discussed, reviewed, researched, investigated, explored, and hashed out all sorts of schemes and ideas for how Fruit Share can raise ~ $12,000 / year to cover office costs (phone, website, printing, etc.), insurance, harvesting supplies, Harvest Management System maintenance, and our Summer Coordinator. Even after numerous meetings, discussions, and business plans from business students, business professionals, other fruit-rescuing organizations and Fruit Share stakeholders, we still couldn’t find one perfect solution.

In the end, we decided on bits and pieces from what other organizations are doing, including fundraising, membership fees, and product sales (the Harvest Management System).

I was nervous about Fruit Share implementing a membership fee. That nervousness is reminiscent of the feeling I had in those first few months of 2010 when I wondered if anyone would be interested in Fruit Share at all.  Now I wonder if those people who stepped forward value Fruit Share enough to pay $10 per year to help cover its operating costs.

I certainly hope you do and register as a fruit owner or fruit picker today so we can continue to rescue and share another 10,000 lbs of fruits and veggies this year.

What do you think?  Is Fruit Share worth the price of two cappuccinos per year?


Getty Stewart

Fruit Share Founder