What is 'Fruit Rescue'?

We are not exactly knights on white horses, but rather gardeners walking around the neighbourhood with white pails and a commitment to prevent waste.

In a time where lots of people are hungry, there is global warming and a push to eat locally; we believed we could do our little part by picking the apples and preserving them for the winter to help others remember that we can have abundance even in this northern climate.

We were inspired by OFRE - Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton.  They are a large team of volunteers who work with homeowners to pick fruit from their yards and have a wonderful mandate of sharing the bounty - one third for each the picker, the homeowner and the local food bank. We decided to stay within our neighbourhood and see what we could do here.

After a busy and successful time with apples and crabapples we rested for the winter along with most of the gardens, but had a plan for this spring - let's pick rhubarb!  It survives in the older gardens here, borders back driveways and in most cases is abandoned to provide greenery and then just exhausts itself.

We eagerly waited, found interesting recipes for jams and preserves, and finally those ruby red stalks were big enough to harvest. We identified the plants that were not being used and knocked on the doors to ask permission to pick.  Most people were surprised that we would be interested but all gave their approval and the small but hardy band of rhubarb pullers went to work.

It didn't take long before they found new plants needing rescue and the bins, pails and even cardboard boxes filled the kitchen. Unfortunately we were so busy that we didn't take photos but then started to weigh in the harvest. To date we have collected over 400 pounds of rhubarb and are experimenting to see what methods of harvesting are best for continued production.

As one of the jam producers, I am not sure we need so much, but the challenge of being urban farmers keeps us learning, harvesting and making jam.

To answer the title's question, we are collecting fruit that grows naturally in our neighourhood and is not being used by the homeowner for whichever reason. We do not pick from the garbage and if the fruit in question comes from trees. we do not pick from the ground. We are gardeners, homemakers, composters.

We are learning to appreciate what we are able to grow here in Edmonton and beginning to understand edible landscapes and permaculture. Also, there is a whole world of learning when if comes to preserving the bounty - but that's a story for another time.