Hidden Harvest: apples in our backyard Tree Succession Planning

Tina, a Hidden Harvest volunteer, picks apples at Lansdowne, closely observed by
children from Glebe Parents Daycare. Photo: Courtesy of Hidden Harvest

by Jennifer Humphries

“What if, with every $100 grocery purchase, you made a $25 donation to the food bank?” Jason Garlough asked me. “That’s precisely what Hidden Harvest does. Out of all the fruits and nuts that we harvest from local trees, 25 per cent – the best quality – goes to local food banks, a quarter to the homeowner for whom our volunteers have done the harvesting, a quarter goes to processors and a quarter goes to the green bin for composting.”

Garlough is one of the co-founders of Hidden Harvest, which has been running for six years. It’s a social enterprise, but is now seeking charitable status. “We had a study done that showed that we really are a charity,” Garlough said. “We don’t generate profit. We cover costs. Volunteers are a huge part of what makes our efforts work.”

But Hidden Harvest needs funds to purchase equipment such as poles designed for picking apples, tools, wheelbarrows and carpets to collect fruits that fall during picking, and also to cover expenses for volunteers who deliver produce to food banks across the city. “We could collect and donate much more with additional funding. Rather than having edible fruit wasted, often ending up in compost or the landfill, it could be diverted to nourish people who need food.”

In Nourishing Communities, Hidden Harvest’s newly released video, outreach coordinator Jennifer Jans engagingly illustrates the value of the organization’s work in three fact-filled minutes. See www.youtube.com/user/ HiddenHarvestOttawa.

The organization has harvested an extraordinary amount of produce over its short history. The website main page updates after each harvest. Totals as of October 21 this year are: 1,055 trees and vines harvested, 1,892 volunteers engaged and 39,356 pounds of fruit and nuts gathered.

Did you know that the Glebe is home to a sizable hidden harvest? In early September, the CBC Ottawa Morning radio show featured a visit to the Lansdowne Park apple orchard, a hidden treasure tucked away on the eastern perimeter of the park (www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ ottawa/lansdowne-park-apple-orchardottawa- 1.4813818.) Here, each year, 37 trees yield between 600 and 700 pounds of apples, carefully harvested by Hidden Harvest volunteers.

Glebe resident Lynn Armstrong, who witnessed this year’s Lansdowne harvest, said, “This orchard of heritage apple varieties is a great complement to the educational experiences provided by the raised-bed demonstration gardens located beside the orchard. Both the bountiful fruit and the vegetables go to emergency food centres. It’s a wonderful step toward sustainability to have produce grown in city parks going to residents who use the food banks.”

What’s next for Hidden Harvest? “We make a huge social impact and want to keep on doing it, and even expand,” said Garlough. “Currently we are looking for someone with a finance background and someone with a volunteer management background to join our advisory committee.” Anyone interested in volunteering as a harvester or offering professional advice can sign up on the website’s volunteer form (www.ottawa.hiddenharvest. ca/volunteer-sign-up/).

Another great way to follow the Hidden Harvest story is by signing up for the e-newsletter at the bottom of any page on the website. If you’d like to help get more delicious local food to local people rather than see it go to waste, visit: ottawa.hiddenharvest.ca.

Jennifer Humphries is co-chair of the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee. You can contact her at environment@glebeca.ca

Photo: courtesy of hidden harvest Photo: John Humphries

Tree Succession Planning
In last June’s tree column, we advised planting a young tree to help maintain our local tree canopy, even if you have a healthy older one. Pictured is Carolyn Mackenzie of Monkland Avenue with her new red maple, her mature maple in the background. When the senior tree is gone, the sapling will be ready to provide summer shade and fall colour.

Tree Pruning? Not yet!
Wait for the Glebe Report’s January tree column for information on when best to prune your trees (in general: deciduous, February to April; evergreens, early spring to June), plus tips on how to prune.

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