It all started in the fall of 2010 as we were walking around our 60 year old neighborhood of Sherbrooke. Tons of apples and crab apples were piled in bags in the back lanes for the garbage pick up while we knew there were hungry people in the city. Could we do something about this?
The answer was: "Yes!"
A wonderful video that summarizes it all
This video is an outcome of our partnership with the University of Alberta and their CSL - Community Service Learning Program.
Fruits of Sherbrooke summarized by Nicole Martin.
What is our strategy?
CONNECTING: First, we find ways of connecting people: those who have fruit in their yards that they do not want or is excess to their needs, and those who will use it. We receive the offer of free fruit from many homeowners who are willing to pick and deliver the fruit, as well as those who have the excess but cannot pick it. Christina is our "urban farmer" and she has found a number of charities, not-for-profit groups, community kitchens, school programs, farmers, and individuals who are interested in receiving this bounty. We are the broker in this case and often do not even see the fruit itself as the homeowners and recipients make their own arrangements. There are no restrictions on how much a person can receive, as long as they commit that it is used.
TEACHING: Preserving is an art and most people remember their mothers and grandmothers canning and saving summer bounty. In our northern climate, this is a necessity. We offer classes in making jam where we teach the traditional cooked jam as well as freezer jams and then finish with a condiment. We also invite volunteers to work with us for a day or on a regular basis. It is through this work they have the full experience and they walk away fully immersed in the skill and love of the old fashioned process that we use - pot on the stove and stirred by hand. A complete listing of programming we offer is on our Events section.
MAKING: We have worked at creating products that use 60% to 100% "rescued" fruit and we have many that are made with 100% rescued fruit. We want to show that one can make good and tasty jam, jelly, condiments and sauces with this forgotten fruit. We are proud to create unique, flavourful products that are creating a buzz at the Farmer's Markets where we sell them. It is through the sale of our products that we put the three pillars of our mission into action.
1. 'Rescue' and use forgotten urban fruit by using and sharing it.
2. Teach others that we have a great resource by showing what we make and teaching classes.
3. Finally to use our local abundance to feed those who are hungry in our city. This is the Fruit Stars initiative as described below.
FEEDING OTHERS: We make really great product and are successfully using 'rescued' fruit in each jar. However we have always had an abundance of local apples and lots of people who go hungry in our city. It has been a struggle to find a way to make this happen. It is a long story with many mountains and valleys. As of 2017 this is what we have perfected. We dehydrate apples to make apple chips, we make apple leather and our biggest achievement has been to find an easy way to package applesauce for kids. It is still very labour intensive as we do not have space for a commercial filling and sealing equipment. So we make the applesauce and our wonderful volunteers hand fill each tube with a medical syringe. Maybe we will have a new solution by next year?
Who gets these treats? Over the past two years we have made over 27,000 individually packaged snacks. The apple chips and apple leather is pure fruit with no additives or sugar and are packaged in 15 g packages. The applesauce only has added cinnamon and is kept frozen until serving as there are no preservatives. They have gone to snack programs in high needs schools in the city, to community programs sponsored by the University of Alberta, and to our local Food Bank and were used at summer camps for new Canadians.
To see more go to the Fruit Stars tab on the top toolbar. And many, many thanks to the generous volunteers who have made this all happen!!!