How many times have you come across a tree laden with fruit that is dropping to the ground and rotting, and thought “if only I’d brought a ladder along with me on my walk today…” (well maybe even just a bag…). In the era of easy access to cheap food from far away, we seem to have collectively lost the skills, the will, or the inspiration, to harvest the free food that literally drops from the trees in our own area!
Giving Harvest is a project spearheaded by Donna Silver, who moved to Perth from Ottawa only last year. It is inspired by a number of similar projects that have sprung up in North American cities and towns in the last decade — all of which aim to start making use of the abundant and unharvested fruit trees in our communities.
Wild and domesticated fruit trees have been harvested for centuries. It is only in recent decades that the value we give to such trees, in private and civic landscapes, has seemed to focus more on blossom beauty than on food value. In fact, today, fallen fruits are often considered simply a big nuisance, as we clean them up from yards and sidewalk surfaces.
Giving Harvest may help to change some perspectives. Last fall, Donna Silver plugged the idea of starting a “community orchard” at the Let’s Talk Resilience gathering (organized by Transition Perth). The orchard she envisions, however, is not a neat grid of fruit trees growing in tidy rows, but rather the latent and largely unnoticed fruit trees already present in yards and along the streets of Perth.