Wednesday, August 18, 2010

O Free!

I was going to write more about how my last 2 minutes of pesto-making became 30 minutes of searching for a needle in a haystack (AKA finding the bits of green rubber spatula in a processor full of green basil). I was going to assure Rosa that she is not getting the extra chewy version of the pesto, or comment on the horrendous cost of pine nuts. Where do pine nuts come from? Are the pine beetles killing the pines and making pine nuts as rare as gold? Something for me to Google.

No, I'm not going to blog about any of those things because I've been distracted by something else.

Around this time last year, I was letting the dream of a community garden die, wrapping my brain around the idea of finding my own space from neighbours and friends to build my "land" to what I need it to be in order to feed my family vegetables.

But now I have found OFRE (Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton). They link fruit pickers with fruit tree owners who are not going to pick their fruit for whatever reason. It stops the fruit from being wasted, the Food Bank gets a portion, the apple maggots are held at bay by not being left on the ground, etc. All sorts of benefits can be had.

After hearing about them at the permaculture course in the spring and reading their website, I thought it was pronounce "O-free", as in "Oh, the fruit is free!" It's actually pronounced "Offer", but I'm at the free end of things. I signed up as a picker.

Last night we went picking as a family to a rural estate home and we picked all of the big red raspberries she had. And she had a lot! And apple trees too. Lots and lots of apple trees.

Two hours of time, and the kids got to climb trees, I picked up some zuchinis (mine are still not producing anything), and we came home with 6 cookie sheets of raspberries to freeze. The Food Bank got 55 pounds of apples and the owner didn't want anything.
Actually she wanted us to come back and get more apples, so I might do that after my next trip. As Yvon pointed out, I shouldn't stockpile more fresh fruit than I have time to process. He's very wise. I still have 20 pounds of peaches to can tomorrow.
I think there is only so much I can do to make my raspberries perform really well out in the alley, and I'll never have room for much fruit. I'm so pleased to have found OFRE and I hope I can contribute more of my time to picking while the season lasts. Maybe they'll find a cherry tree owner or pears. Wouldn't that be great?
Anyway, if you live in Edmonton and want to contribute to the Food Bank or to your own store of food, check them out. It was fun and as we picked we talked about planning some canning and processing sessions. That would be great too. Usually I do it all alone in my hot kitchen, but it would be more fun with others.
Tomorrow I'll be back at it in my own kitchen to get these peaches all done. The pantry is starting to look good again.


Coralee said...

what a great program! I'll have to check and see if there's anything like that here

Evelyn in Canada said...

There is, actually. Check out It looks like it just started up this year. Ours is only two years old, but looks like it can keep you busy.

Unknown said...

How cool, Ev! I saw their website and thought "Wow, if I lived closer, I would definitely do this!"

If you do end up picking more than you can process, I'll help. :) I'd be happy to trade some garlic sausage or grass-fed steaks or wool for apples or berries or whatever!

Evelyn in Canada said...

I will keep you in mind, AJC! I won't be doing any more picking for another week, but I'm sure there will still be apples at that point.

cg said...

hey ev, we have something like that in kimberley, but i think it's to lessen the amount of bear encounters in town. they'll come an pick all unwanted fruit for you. what a great program you tapped into.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Edmonton too, but I think I've missed it for this year. Just learned about this effort from Julie's blog. (What a great source of food information she is.)

I was given crabapples but I've eaten them, just out of hand. They were delicious. Now I'm picking high-bush cranberry which is all through the river valley Evelyn. Just follow your nose. If you can smell that musky smell, they've been hit by frost and are reading to pick.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I've been reading around here and see you might like to know about Hawthorn berries? Try Hawrelak. They're on your right as you enter, three or four small groves, just before the first picnic shelter. But you'd better move fast. They're ready now, and very popular.