The Fruit Tree Project is in full swing at LifeCycles right now, especially because this summer's drought is causing fruit to ripen a month early. We're up to our ears in plums and transparent apples!
This Sunday we were also profiled in the Times Colonist. Read the article below or on the Times Colonist Website.
The program, in its 18th year, sees volunteers harvesting fruit from the backyards of up to 130 homeowners over the next four months. The project is an initiative of LifeCycles, a non-profit organization that promotes food security and urban sustainability.
The fruit is shared four ways: among homeowners, volunteers, food banks (and community organizations) and back to the project itself.
Some of the fruit will serve as ingredients for some LifeCycles workshops held at the Shelbourne Community Kitchen that teach participants how to can and preserve fruit, and make jam and chutneys.
“LifeCycles has contributed so much,” said Sheila Avery, co-ordinator of Food Security at Saanich Neighbourhood Place. “They have connected community members to contribute vegetables and fruits to our many families.”
Apples and plums make up the bulk of the fruit, with pears, figs and quince also abundant in the area.
“While we collect throughout the region, we have found Gordon Head, Oak Bay and the Gorge Burnside area are hotbeds when it comes to nice old trees,” said Jenny McCartney, LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project co-ordinator.
The reason, she said, was because the land was used for fruit orchards before they were eventually subdivided into single-family housing.
This year the group is also harvesting peppers, lettuce and other vegetables at a commercial farm, in collaboration with the Mustard Seed, the largest food bank on Vancouver Island. The fresh produce helps feed those in need.
Homeowners who might be interested in participating are urged to continue watering their trees at least once a week during this dry weather. Failure to do so could result in the fruit dropping prematurely. Fruit tree owners and volunteers can join the project at lifecyclesproject.ca/ initiatives/fruit_tree.