Apples may never fall far from the tree, but a Winnipeg group wants to make sure people eat them before they hit the ground.
Fruit Share, a non-profit volunteer organization that blossomed just three years ago, is helping food-bank clients eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally in homeowners' backyards.
Founder Getty Stewart said she came up with Fruit Share after walking down her back alley and seeing fallen apples rotting in bags destined to be picked up by garbage trucks.
SSLqWhen I was growing up on the farm we used everything. It was heartbreaking to see all this food being wasted'
"When I was growing up on the farm we used everything," Stewart said on Friday. "It was heartbreaking to see all this food being wasted."
Stewart said the first year, 2010, she rounded up 10 of her relatives and friends and began picking. Within a few days they had picked 3,323 kilograms of fruit at 97 addresses and helped six food banks.
By 2012, Fruit Share had grown to harvest more than 4,500 kg of fruit and helped more than two dozen food banks. It has also spread to Brandon, where more than 2,250 kg of fruit has already been picked, and to Steinbach, which now has more than 900 kg.
The volunteer pickers have gathered more than 3,000 kg of fruit so far this year and they're hoping to keep on picking until frost. They have also been picking rhubarb, strawberries and squash this year.
Stewart said Fruit Share splits the bounty they pick into three parts, with equal shares going to the homeowner, the volunteer picker and food banks.
Sarah Klassen Bartel, a volunteer picker, said she has already turned some of the apples she picked into applesauce, with others to soon be fruit rollups.
"I'm interested in local food," she said. "I want to be able to eat what's around. I've seen fruit falling in peoples' backyards and thought, 'what a shame.' "
David Northcott, Winnipeg Harvest's executive director, said they are thrilled to be one of the recipients of the apple harvest.
"Any time you can put fresh food in our hampers is just great," Northcott said. "And to have people who know how to properly pick the product is really great. People have been very generous in the past with produce donations, but this is the first time it has been a purposeful way."
Rick Frost, CEO of the Winnipeg Foundation, said they believe so much in the Fruit Share concept that it has provided it with grants the last couple of years so Fruit Share could hire a summer co-ordinator to create an operations plan and manual, pay for the cost of its website and buy picking supplies and equipment.
"Food is one of the themes of the Winnipeg Foundation and we've always supported an organization like Winnipeg Harvest or after-school programs... Fruit Share comes at it in a different way by preventing the waste of unwanted fruit," Frost said.
Stewart said if anyone wants to volunteer or agree to let their fruit tree become part of the program, call 204-272-8520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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