2014 Classes now available! We are now ready to offer classes on the following schedule or can set up a class at a time and place that works for you.Read More
I love the bounty of fruit and herbs we are given each year. If you follow us and our products you will know that we make a wide variety of products with our main local fruits such as rhubarb, raspberries, sour cherries, pears, apples and crab apples. Then little gems appear like Honeyberries, local plums, concord grapes, apricots and assorted herbs. These little treasures are usually in small amounts that we believe should be highlighted as a prime ingredient instead of being lost in batches of Bumbleberry or Mixed Fruit jam. The problem was how to market these small batches? Finally, in our consultations with Alberta Agriculture a solution was found - Limited Edition Jams. Limited Edition is defined as 'limited to a small number of copies'. That fits what we want to do. We have the small amounts of unique fruits and the ability to make some unique jams or condiments with them. They will be created in our hand-made method - batch by batch and our wonderful cooks will play with flavours - as they like to do - to create something unique and flavourful.
For those who would like to be part of this little adventure, we invite you to join our Limited Edition Jam Club. Link here for details on the different options - all of which will include Limited Edition products. They will be assembled and delivered to a variety of locations in the area in the last week of the month.
We already have product ready to go and more will be made as the demand increases so let's get started!!!! The application is here.
As we are starting into our 4th year , we would like thank everyone who has supported Fruits of Sherbrooke over the past and welcome you as we continue to grow.
We started in our neighbourhood of Sherbrooke with the mission of using fruit that was falling to the ground as we believed it was the right thing to do, it was free and we wanted to show that good things could be made with this abandoned fruit. We walked from yard to yard and as you can see from this photo, Christina brought her grandchildren to help and the bounty was hauled home in the wagon. We proudly had a little footprint on our labels at that time as we claimed to pick within walking distance of our community league. It was an environmental effort and we made jams and applesauce as a way to use the fruit. Over the second year, we received calls from farther afield to come and pick their fruit. We were appreciative of the offering, so we went, picked and tried to leave homeowners a jar of jam in thanks. It was manageable and we were having fun. We were not making money yet but assumed it was the cost of starting up. Year three was 2013 and it all expanded. We were making lots more product, selling in more markets and thus had to gather more of this "free" fruit.
At the same time we were busy making sure that fruit, excess to our needs, was given to other small charities, non-profits, community kitchens, group homes, university food banks, schools and individuals that would use it. In the fall of 2013 we diverted over 8,000 kg apples to these places plus other produce that came our way. We partner with Winnifred Stewart Association and Chrysallis to offer job experience opportunities, we offer entry level work experience to people who volunteer in the kitchen or help with labeling. As a caring, grass-roots organization, we offer a flexible work setting that allows people with children or health issues to volunteer with us. We do offer reimbursement for travel and expenses, so it is a good starting place for many. In addition we have been planning the launch of our Cherry Stone Soup program in 2014, and this will offer preserving courses to low income participants in the city. Christina has also been busy creating networks with local animal farms asking them to pick up apples that are not suitable for human consumption and bring them to their farm animals. These are a lot of initiatives that meet our mission of having all the local abundance of fruit used for food.
In the winter of 2013 - 2014 we have been meeting with consultants from Alberta Agriculture and one of our challenges was to actually look at the cost of our 'free' fruit. As mentioned above, we figured it was free and happily drove around picking, picking up and bringing it back to our kitchen. But as we worked it out, we found that it costs more than buying it from the store. WOW! what a surprise that was! We have no economy of scale. Take rhubarb for example. We have patches of rhubarb all around the city and we try to pick every 4 weeks. It is a lot of driving throughout the summer gathering a few bags here and there. The fantasy of having a field of rhubarb is often in our minds. Then we have to clean it up, chop it finely (nobody likes to find long fibres in their jam) and compost the leaves and trimmings. This work is all done by hand. As we gather more than we can process during the summer we have a number of freezers spread around this part of the city in people's basements, garages and a church basement. So we have to ferry the bounty into storage for winter's use. At the same time, we make lots and lots of rhubarb juice and store it in jars. This juice is added when we need liquid in our rhubarb jams and is also the base for a lot of condiments - Lemon Pepper Gin Jelly and Sweet Chili Tri Sauce for example.
You can only begin to guess how much time is spent picking local raspberries and saskatoons, climbing up ladders into cherry, pear, and apple trees, reaching around pokey branches, moving the ladders time and again and then driving back to sort, wash, chop and juice each of these fruits for use. All of this work is done before we even start to make products. We have learned that using locally rescued fruit is a good environmental choice but not a cheap choice. Then after doing all this work, we have been leaving a jar of jam in thanks. The accountants in our world, shake their heads, not only does it cost a lot of time and energy to 'rescue', then we have been adding more to the cost of the fruit collected by giving away jam! It just goes to show that we are kind-hearted environmentalists and not money smart - so far.
Has this deterred us? No.
- We know we are right in using good local fruit that would otherwise be abandoned.
- We know we make good product with a green footprint.
- We use our own fruit juice whenever liquid is required.
- Every product is 60% - 100% rescued fruit.
- The mission is correct.
- AND ....we have fun.
As you and your company plans for team and group events for the next year, would you consider doing something that pays a Triple Dividend? Let me explain. We offer 1 day workshops for volunteer groups where you will work with us for the day. Class description is here. There is a fee for the day but the payoff happens for the Self, the Environment, and Others.
- Self: Each person attending will learn about the abundant urban fruit that grows in the city and is not being used. During the months of July - October, participants will assist in picking the fruit, learning how to prepare it for immediate use or save to be used later, and finally in making a jam and/or jelly. They will learn how to blend spices and herbs to create a unique flavour combination and finally prepare product to take home with them. It is truly a hands-on experience.
- Environment: By learning about the amount of fruit that grows in the city, participants will become more aware and learn options for its use rather than garbage. Fruits of Sherbrooke practices include composting, recycling, reuse, and diversion of excess edible fruits to other charities and non-profits around the city. Some of the fees will enable Fruits of Sherbrooke to continue to create it's programs of creating a directory, collecting and re-directing excess urban fruit that grows in this city. In this manner, more food gets to people who are willing to use it, waste is reduced and fruit from the ground goes to animal farms. We are also looking for new and creative options for using the over-abundance of apples and crab apples in the city.
- Others: A portion of the fees for the course will be applied directly to the Cherry Stone Soup Program. Through this program the Fruits of Sherbrooke will be offering free workshops to low income groups as identified by Alberta Health (such as community kitchens), new immigrants as identified by Catholic Social Services and the Mennonite Centre for Refugees and other community resources. This program is already being trialed. The funds are needed to provide the participants with jars and supplies and the dream is to have enough funds to supply participants with equipment such as canning supplies or a dehydrator. Eventually we would like to have the funds to set up a system that would connect those with excess with those who are willing to pick and use. So the fees from the course will help Fruits of Sherbrooke to run and administer their programs that connect excess fruit to those who will use it.
Please read the course description and call us to find out how we can work together. We are able to customize a day if you want to made a product for your office, for a fund-raiser or other purposes. We are open to considering all queries.
Phone - 780-244-0129 Email Fruits of Sherbrooke
We have a partnership with the University of Alberta and their CSL - Community Service Learning Program. One of the students this fall, Nicole Martin, took the challenge of creating a video to explain our story. In addition, we had 4 other students who have helped us with our social media limitations (we are all sooo over 40 and need help in this area) and also with our marketing plans. It has been a very productive session and hopefully you will see the benefits of their input. So here is the link to this great video and 3 minutes will tell it all! Fruits of Sherbrooke Video Enjoy and feel free to share.