The trees of our cities serve a plethora of purposes – they provide a habitat for birds and wildlife, protect soil from erosion, give shade, protect from weather, provide privacy, et cetera. Personally, they comfort me- they break up the harsh lines and concrete found throughout our manufactured landscapes.
Many of our city trees produce foods that we can eat, but this harvest is often missed or overlooked; resulting in tonnes of fresh produce are wasted each year. This can be because these trees stand on city property, or because tree owners may not have the means or time to harvest all the fruits from their trees. Harvesting the produce from such trees can be many hours of work and quite difficult to harvest. Nevertheless, this produce is extremely valuable and can contribute to the communities in which they are grown.
Recognizing this gap, urban gleaning projects have started popping up here and there in effort to harvest, use and preserve the fruits from the trees that grow so close to home. These initiatives aim to reduce locally grown waste, and enhance local food security and food sovereignty while connecting people with their local landscape and each other. Sharing of the harvests allows for learning and bonding with friends and neighbours over delicious feasts.
This summer, reachAbility is launching their very own urbanOrchard project here in HRM.
“The urbanOrchard project is an opportunity for persons with disabilities, volunteers, and community members to contribute to food security by participating in an urban harvesting program. We will take participants and volunteers around HRM to harvest fruits, berries, and nuts. The fruit will come from two sources; public trees shared by HRM, and trees on private property. Any homeowners can register their fruit or nut trees with urbanOrchard and we will mobilize to pick the bounty when ripe.
We share the harvest evenly between the homeowner and Feed Nova Scotia, keeping one third for the participants of urbanOrchard. With the help of the Ecology Action Centre, we will turn our share of the fruit into jams, jellies, pickles and preserves.”
For more information, and how you can volunteer and register your fruit and nut trees, please contact Schuyler Smith firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their website.
Looking forward to harvest season now? I sure am!