For Getty Stewart, getting fresh fruit doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the store. “I was raised in Germany where my family had its own orchard,” says Stewart, a Home Economist. “Then we moved to a farm in Southwest Manitoba where we grew our own food, foraged, and picked fruit. We never let any of it go to waste.”
After moving to Winnipeg, Stewart was pleasantly surprised to find so many fruit trees in her South Osborne neighbourhood but lamented that most of this backyard bounty fell to the ground and was left to rot. In 2010 she started Fruit Share.
“The concept was simple: neighbours would help neighbours to harvest, share and enjoy existing fruit.”
In the first year, 10 volunteers harvested nearly 1,700 lbs of fruit. The idea blossomed and in 2013 an estimated 300 volunteers will rescue 12,000 lbs of fruit.
The Fruit Share harvest is divided three ways: a third stays with the home owner, a third is kept by the volunteers, and a third is donated to community organizations.
Although home owners like the concept of using their own fruit, they often don’t know how to. Assiniboine has supported Fruit Share with two Sustainable Community Grants to develop education programs. Workshops, a website and Fruit Share’s “Sharing the Harvest” resource help people identify, harvest, preserve, and donate their fruit.
Stewart also wrote the successful Prairie Fruit Cookbook which quickly became one of McNally Robinson’s best sellers in 2012.
Fruit Share is now branching out into Steinbach and Brandon. The organization continues to grow while reducing fruit waste, supporting home owners, and donating useable fruit to organizations like Agape Table and Winnipeg Harvest.