One evening last December, after my family had picked a delicious box of apples off a neighbour’s tree, I put out a little note on Bowen Island Everything Else asking if anyone on-island had any fruit or nut trees that they had no time or ability to harvest. I did not get a clear answer on that, but I did get a lot of ideas about possible trees that might be available – and, a lot of enthusiasm.
So, with the support of my colleagues at BIFS (Bowen Island Food Resilience Society), I made a simple pitch to the Bowen Island Community Foundation: help me start a project to build awareness of the island’s existing food resources provided by fruit and nut trees, and build community around the picking and sharing of those fruits. Much like the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project (which has gleaned some 72,000 lbs of fruit from people’s backyards over the course of 21 years), the project we have named “Low Hanging Fruit” will share the produce with volunteers and community groups.
To make this project fly, we need three things:
- Donors. People who have a fruit or nut tree on their property, and are willing to share the produce.
- Volunteers. People who think it would be fun to pick fruit for community use and bring a little themselves.
- Community Groups that are keen to receive fruit and nuts to support their programming and nourish the people they work with.
Why do we call it Low Hanging Fruit?
We consider the task of identifying local resources and ensuring they are shared and enjoyed as an easy and straightforward way to start to grow our local food resilience. We intend to grow this project into one that makes it easier for people to plant and care for fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, with the medium-term goal of increasing the amount of food grown on Nexwlélexwm. Think of it as adding to the abundance we already enjoy as salmonberry (Yetwánaý) season turns into huckleberry season turns into blackberry season.
Whether the Community Foundation shares our concern about the climate-induced disruptions to our food system and the need to re-build our community’s local food system, or whether they simply think this is a nice way to get people working together - we are so pleased and grateful that they have agreed to support this project.
I keep wanting to say, “let’s not waste the food that grows on our local trees,” but truthfully, I don’t consider fruit that falls to the ground or gets eaten by birds and squirrels as a waste. However, I do hope this project helps us, as a community, deepen our appreciation for the abundance that exists here and moves us to build more of it.
If you are interested in participating in the Low Hanging Fruit Pilot Project, please connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Low Hanging Fruit” in the subject line.