2015 Season

Hello Brandon!

Fruit Share is in action now for the 2015 season. We’ll be having all sorts of fruit picks and workshops.

If you’d like to volunteer with us, sign up for our email list here and you’ll get all the updates.

If you have a fruit tree/bush/plant that you’d like to donate from, contact me at fruitsharebrandon@gmail.com or 204-720-0265. You can pass that on if you know someone else who might be able to donate as well.

Now let’s get out there and have fun as we feed the community!

 

Food Justice and Fruit Share’s Role

The world is in trouble. Everywhere, we are struggling to feed everyone.

We have everything we need here on Planet Earth to feed ourselves, but the way our societies are organized prevents this from happening. This is criminal. Every human being has the right to enough food, and decent food at that.

Let’s face it, if feeding the (truly) hungry was profitable, it would have been done already. That’s why we need the projects that hatch from clever ideas like Fruit Share. Even here, in Brandon Manitoba.

We aren’t in this for ourselves. True, we sometimes walk away with a bag or box packed with fresh fruit. And we may make a few friends, spend some time outside, get some exercise, and feel good about ourselves. But that’s not what Fruit Share is all about. That’s not all that draws us to it.

Fall Fruit!

It’s amazing to find that fall is upon us in all of it’s golden-leaved glory. As my term as Fruit Share Brandon Co-ordinator was coming to a close, I appealed to the higher powers to allow me to continue on in my position until I felt that the harvesting season had come to a complete close (re: snow). It was with a breath of relief that I received the news last night that I could continue my mission, our mission, to gather and save as much local fruit as possible. As we near the 6,000 lbs. mark, I’m getting excited to reach our ultimate goal.

Building my Muscles

I’ve always liked the idea of being strong. Watching super-hero cartoons with my brothers and thumbing through comics as a kid, I quickly learned that muscles were good to have. As soon as I sprouted up to my current height of 5’10”, I realized that I was going to have to accept that I wasn’t meant to be  small, or weak. I was built with broad shoulders and big feet, both of which have helped keep me steady over the years. In an immediate family where everyone stands my height or taller, I never really noticed my height. Only through traveling to countries where most citizens were much shorter than I, did I fully understand that I am indeed above average. Never have I embraced my height so much as with the realization that it had the power to help my picking reach soar above and beyond that of others.

Tricks of the Fruit Trade

When I began this position, I did not have any formal fruit training. I learned as a child how to be careful with raspberries- watching out for moldy middles or protective daddy long-legs. Picking them gently so as not to ruin their perfect form and turn them into jam in my hands. Other than a few additional hints at a young age (mostly which things were sour and sure to turn my tummy), I was never expressly schooled in the art of fruit picking. As each new crop ripens for harvest, I find myself learning how to best treat each variety of prairie produce.

A is for Apple

It has been almost three months since I began my current position as Coordinator of Fruit Share Brandon. I have enjoyed every aspect of my job and I’m continually amazed by what we’ve been able to accomplish in our first year of operations. This past month has been incredibly busy and I fear that I have let my blog posts slip by the wayside in the wake of pails of saskatoons, strawberries, and cherries! As an apology, I want to share with you a bit of an update with our progress so far this summer!

Berries

Berries, berries
I love you so.
I love to sit
And watch you grow.

I pick you off
Your leafy stem.
You glis­ten like
A shiny gem.

I eat you up,
So ripe and sweet.
Your fleshy bits,
My favorite treat!

Sometimes I like
To squish you up.
And eat your sauce
When I do sup.

I like to think
That I’m a bear.
Steal my berries?
Thieves beware!

I’ll for­age here,
I’ll for­age there.
I’ll find berries
Most any­where!

Tonight I’ll bake
Them in a pie.
A slice or two
I’ll have to try.

With my tummy,
Plein de berry.
My dreams I’m sure
Will be most merry.

Help Fight Hunger

This morning, I was invited to be a part of a focus group through Healthy Brandon. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I jumped at the chance to be a part of a meeting at City Hall. Two days in a row now I’ve been admitted through the powerful doors into the Councillor’s Meeting Room. Heavy oak desks and tall windows watching over our conversations, just as I’m sure they had with others, countless times before. I left today feeling energized, my mind racing over the issues we had discussed. My thoughts brimming and overlapping as I walked the few blocks home for lunch. Within minutes of sitting down, my notebook was out, my pen scratching ideas down quickly for fear of losing them. My brain consumed by ways to change things, ways to help.

The Road To Enlightenment

This morning, for the first time, I walked to work from my new apartment.

As luck would have it, we were able to find a place (Ok, a perfect place) within four blocks to my office. One block is uphill (hard to believe on the prairies, I know) and the other three take me down one of the main downtown corridors. My walk took me no more than five minutes, but I was amazed at the mood that I arrived with. I sat down at my desk with a grin on my face and actually said something to myself along the lines of Let’s get to it! (Not normal)

Hungry For Change

July has me exhausted, and we’re only on day four.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my plan to eat healthy and be more physically active this month. So far, half of that is under way. Over the weekend, my husband and I moved from our second and third story apartment into our new third story apartment. Both of which are elevator-free. If I had to roughly estimate just how many stairs I’ve climbed over the past week, I’d put it at somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500. Of course, not just my legs got a workout. My whole body put in a full effort each day until I literally collapsed each night from absolute exhaustion. Although it was physically grueling, I was proud of my strong muscles for carrying my life from one home to another.

Summer Safety

In light of a couple of scary days this week, involving Emergency Room trips and visits from the Fire Department, I’ve got summer safety on my mind. The dangers in Manitoba during the winter have a lot to do with ice, snow, and blizzards. Things that can easily be avoided from the warmth of a cozy home. In the summer, there are different things that we need to watch out for when we can no longer bear to stay inside. It is a season that can be enjoyed to it’s fullest, so long as you keep in mind a few mild warnings about summer safety.

With my position coordinating Fruit Share, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time outside. It’s been wonderful to be out in the sunshine, visiting people’s gardens and picking rhubarb. Not to say there haven’t been a couple of hints that there are things I should be paying attention to. So far I have only suffered bug bites and sunburn, but recent warnings have me thinking I should arm myself a little more carefully in the future. Planning to spend the weekend outdoors? Consider making sure yourself and family are prepared for whatever Manitoba might be bringing.

All I’ve been wanting is a lemonade stand. I’ve been working diligently, my mind filled with lemons and sugar and stirring. Dreaming up new fruit combinations to make the most refreshing and delicious of summer drinks. However, much to my dismay, I find myself roadblocked by the rules. It would seem that having a lemonade stand is no longer as simple as it was when I was a little girl. 

Growing up in a quiet, residential neighborhood, my brothers and I had our fair share of lemonade opportunities. One stand that immediately comes to mind was when I was probably six or seven and my younger brother and I set up shop in front of our house. My mom made us a sign with beautiful handwriting, advertising Lemonde 10¢. We did not immediately catch her mistake, trying to sell The World (in French!) for a paltry dime. It was unmistakable, the excitement at the prospect of selling something home-made and finding appreciative customers. (Also making our big dollars of course!) Another time, my best friend and I decided to put a new spin on our stand and decided to sell all things raspberry. Jars of fresh berries and an assortment of raspberry candies were carefully arranged on our small table. It might not have been our most successful sale, but here I am, twenty years later with plans of tables filled with sweets and fruit. 

But no lemonade. Not yet. 

It would seem that where lemons and juices are concerned, things are a little stickier. Understandably there are food safe concerns whenever something is being made and sold, but there seem to be extra stiff lemonade limitations. My home is safe for the making of pies, cakes, jams, and jellies. Lemonade requires the use of a commercial grade kitchen for the juicing and mixing for it to be considered safe. And they don’t come easy! In planning for our pie workshop, it took me almost three weeks to track down a kitchen that would allow us to bake for free. However, I have made a firm commitment to making lemonade out of these lemons, and finding a way to have my stand. 

Until then, I will continue to dream of exotic fruit mixtures and the satisfaction of squishing a lemon into smithereens. I will dream of my perfect stand, attracting customers like swarms of bees to the hive. I will have to start small, but maybe, one day, I’ll take on Le Monde

This Friday, June 21st, marks the Summer Solstice in North America. 

Summer Solstice, or Midsummer Day, occurs when the Sun’s rays are directly lined up with the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees North of the equator. This allows for the longest period of daylight in the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere, a reason for celebration for many countries and cultures. The word Solstice comes from the Latin word Solstitiumsol (sun) and stitium (to stop), which helps to describe the day that never seems to end. Traditionally, it was known as the wedding of heaven and earth, a day of alignment with the cosmos. For farmers, it meant the midpoint between the hardships of planting and harvesting (and a much needed rest). The sunshine on this day is said to have strong restorative powers, making those who revel in it appear younger and healthier. Even the morning dew, if walked through with bare feet, is said to make one more viral and less prone to illness. 

Across the world, the Solstice invokes the spirit of celebration with parades, concerts, and festivals. In Sweden, they have a country-wide Midsommardagen festival to honor the day of light. Little girls are known to collect nine different types of flowers, and on the eve of the Solstice, they place them under their pillows so that they might dream of their future husbands. The day of- men, women, and children all wear freshly woven wreaths and dance about the maypole.  At Stonehenge, near Salisbury England, many gather as they have for thousands of years to greet the rising sun. It is tradition in these countries, along with many others, to try to stay up all night, singing and dancing around a bonfire. Special events are also prevalent in North America, often with additional environmental and ecological themes. 

I once borrowed a novel from a friend, possibly many years back now, that planted the seed of an idea in my brain. I don’t think it was a particularly good book, but the beginning held something enticing that lured me in. It started off with a woman in her cozy, home kitchen, baking pies. The author went about describing them in delicious detail, the perfection of the crust and warm filling, the care at which the woman wrapped and placed them into boxes. I was in love with the idea of this kitchen filled with fragrant, sugary delights, and quickly imagined myself in her shoes. It only got better as it was revealed that this woman’s only purpose in life was to deliver these pies across town to those who were in need. From there the story became something a bit more tragic and unhappy, but the pie part, the sweet part, stuck. 

So where do I find myself years down the road? Packing boxes with warm, freshly-baked pies, and carting them around town to local charities. It feels again like one of those plans that my brain made without me. Little steps over many years that have allowed me to live out a dream. To deliver pies and see those expressions that I had only imagined in the past. And they didn’t let me down, not one bit. In fact, I was almost overwhelmed by the sincere surprise and thanks that I received. Each time I turned to walk away I had a grin that couldn’t be contained on my face. With the first donation made, I was already dreaming up what I could make next before even returning to my car. With the next, my heart swelled as a Volunteer at our local Samaritan House reacted with shock and delight at being told that the pie was for them to enjoy as a thank you for being a part of our mission. As my vehicle emptied, my heart grew fuller. (I know, I’m getting a bit sappy, but there are few things in my life that have warmed my heart so much.)

I didn’t plan to make pies for any selfish reasons, for the rewards or accolades they might bring me. The reactions and gratitude I received were my surprises, my gifts. It was worth burned fingers and a messy kitchen. It was worth bug bites and tired arms and hours spent sweating in the sun. I may still have thought to make pies had I not read the book, but I recognize that little seed it planted, now all grown-up. The reality of it was much more rewarding than what I could have imagined or hoped for. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can make others happy and have the same in return. I must admit that this feeling, the one I get each time I share with my community, has got me hooked. I encourage anyone with the heart and time to help to please join our mission by visiting www.fruitshare.ca to sign up and help make our city just that much sweeter.