Not Far From The Tree

Green living: Help Not Far from the Tree Harvest Toronto’s Fruit

Every city has a surprising number of fruit trees which are a great source of fresh fruit. Unfortunately, after the home or business owners  have had their fill, the rest ends up on the lawn providing a veritable cornucopia of delights for squirrels and bugs. Now a Toronto not-for-profit is utilizing this valuable resource by getting volunteers to pick the fruit and pass it on to food banks.

Not Far From the Tree is the brainchild of Laura Reinsborough and last year alone, they picked 12 512 pounds of fresh fruit. “I put on my fruit goggles and suddenly the way I see the city changes. I see the same reaction in volunteers who have just started picking,” says Laura. Not Far From The Tree is a ragtag band of enthusiastic volunteers who endeavor to harvest fresh fruit from Toronto city trees.

Fruit tree owners register their trees with the organization. Volunteers harvest the fruit with 1/3 going to the homeowner, 1/3 to the volunteers and 1/3 to food banks, charities and community kitchens which struggle to include fresh produce in their meals.

Not Far From The Tree is serious about sustainability as Laura explains: “We are committed to sustainable transportation. This means that although we have trees registered across the city, we only service 14 of Toronto’s neighborhoods. This is because we want volunteers to walk or bike to trees and to the shelters to which fruit will be distributed. Last year we acquired a fleet of 7 cargo bikes and this year we will be growing that fleet to 11 bikes. The bikes transport the fruit picking equipment to the site where the volunteers meet up.”

How to get involved

Blossom watch 2013 is here!

Not Far from the Tree invites you to join us in tracking blossoms around Toronto, and adding to our crowdsourced Blossom Watch Map of stories, photos, videos and more!

Do you have a story about blossoms? A favorite song about blossoms? Maybe you discovered a quiet spot for a picnic among a crowd of blossoming cherry trees? Whatever it is, share it!

There are lots of ways to get involved with Blossom Watch.

1. Add to the Map

Check out the Blossom Watch Map at To explore the map, click All Casts and click on the blue circles to view what others have added. To add to the map, click Login/Register in the bottom right corner. Once you’re logged in, click Add Cast and follow the instructions.

The Blossom Watch Map as of April 23rd, 2013.

2. Post on Twitter and Instagram

Join the Blossom Watch conversation on Twitter and Instagram by using #blossomwatchTO. To geographically tag your posts, turn on the Location setting for Twitter, or click Add to your photo map on Instagram.

3. Share on Facebook

Participate in Blossom Watch on Facebook by tagging @Not Far From The Tree in your posts.

4. Send us an Email

Send us your stories and photos by email to [email protected] and we can add them to the map!

5. Volunteer as a Blossom Scout

Want to take Blossom Watch to the next level? Email [email protected] to sign on as a Blossom Scout!

This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy all the amazing things that nature has to offer, right in the heart of our city. The more you contribute and spread the word, the more fruitful Blossom Watch will be!

This project is supported with funds from the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Program, with support and guidance from Laura Forlano, an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology and a Fulbright NEXUS Scholar during 2011-2012, and platform and technical support from  MIT’s Open Locast.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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