{green ambassador} How Fruit Share Is Reducing Food Waste By Connecting People

Did you know that it has been estimated that each year, one-third of all food produced in the world for human consumption never reaches the consumer’s table? Not only is that a huge waste of food, but the decay of that food waste in landfills is also contributing to greenhouse gases. (Source: fao.org )

Food waste is a major issue, and yet there are also likely people in your community who struggle to put food on the table. That’s why programs like Fruit Share – with a mission to reduce food waste from a surplus of unpicked urban fruit – are such a great resource. When Botanical PaperWorks CEO, Heidi Reimer learned about the program, she loved the idea and knew it was something more people should know about. To help spread the word, we invited Danielle Mondor from the program to talk about it with us.

Watch this one-on-one chat between Botanical PaperWorks CEO, Heidi Reimer-Epp and Danielle Mondor of T&T Seeds to learn all about how Fruit Share is reducing food waste by connecting people

Prefer to read? Here’s the full interview:

Heidi: Hi there, it’s Heidi Reimer-Epp from Botanical PaperWorks and I’m here with Danielle Mondor she’s from T&T Seeds, and we’re in the beautiful urban green space in downtown Winnipeg to talk about Fruit Share. Fruit Share is a really cool program that I’m so excited to talk about today because it’s all about taking something that was just a waste and a nuisance and turning it into something good for the community. Danielle welcome, tell us a bit about Fruit Share, what is it?

Danielle: Ok, so Fruit Share is a really cool organization that T&T has just taken on under our wings. It’s about 10 years old in Winnipeg and started by a really amazing group of people championed by Getty Stewart who’s a home economist and a fruit lover. And the idea is that it takes urban wasted fruit that from fruit trees or fruit bushes or shrubs that people are not using and allowing volunteer pickers to come and pick that fruit and then share it with the community organizations to share with vulnerable populations or people who need it most.

Heidi: Ok, that is so cool. So, let’s say I’ve got this apple tree in my back yard and it’s prolific, and I can’t keep up and it’s falling, and you know how apples get on the ground and it’s gross, so what happens with my apple tree as part of this program?

Danielle: Yeah, so essentially a fruit owner like yourself would then connect with Fruit Share through our website, and then some pickers would set up a time with you to come and pick that apple tree when it’s ripe. They would pick it, they would give you a third of the fruit, they would keep a third of the fruit, and then a third of the fruit would end up with a community organization that’s listed on our website of people that accept fruit donations to give to through their food bank or community kitchen, to those who need it most.

Heidi: Ok, fantastic. So any idea in terms of stats, like how many trees picked, how many kilograms of fruit, do we know any of that, I know you’ve just taken over the program.

Danielle: Yes, T&T has just taken over Fruit Share but historically there are thousands of pounds of fruit picked every single year, and we do keep track of that so we will continue to monitor the amount of fruit that’s picked every year. We do know that there are more fruit owners and fruit trees that need to be picked and want to give away their fruit than there are pickers and so we want to um, increase traffic on our website and connect owners and pickers together so that no more fruit goes to waste.

Heidi: Ok, that’s awesome. So what’s your vision for Fruit Share, what are the things you’re working on right now?

Danielle: Well, there are some really great connections that kind of link back in or weave back in with T&T Seeds. As you probably know we’re a national seed company, so we offer non-genetically modified seeds across Canada. We also sell perishable rootstock in terms of apple trees, raspberry bushes, gooseberries, currents; all kinds of really amazing fruit that we also ship through the mail and we are also a garden center and nursery selling fruit. So, the tie into the business is really wonderful in that there are experts at T&T that can offer fruit growing advice as well as um, share in urban green space landscaping that is very food focused.

So, although we think that like flowers are great and lawns are great, it’s also awesome to have more urban centers in Winnipeg and beyond growing fruit in their backyards that can be shared.

Heidi: Yeah, that’s awesome, I know as an urban gardener myself I’ve thought I would really like to have some fruit growing in my garden but a) I don’t know what to do with it b) there’s this whole problem of what to do when it comes time to pick it and so you offer solutions for the start middle and end of the season I guess.

Danielle: Yeah so,  it’s really cool in that people can just kind of plug into our website so we have a website that acts as a blog around what to do with your fruit, or if you have a surplus of gooseberries and your not really sure what to do with them. So, it’s kind of very community-based in that people can write in their suggestions and share with each other as well as our Facebook page is a great forum for that. And then, our website ah, which is called Fruit Connect is really the matchmaker where fruit owners and fruit pickers are paired together. So, we ask people to log on, there’s a very minimal membership fee every single year and then the website matches people best in your neighborhood in Winnipeg. And then you can go and connect with owners and the fruit is all picked and cleaned up.

Heidi: If somebody wants to get involved in Fruit Share, they go to the website sign-up there, and I think it’s Winnipeg only right now right but you’ve got some big dreams.

Danielle: Yes, so unfortunately if you live outside of Winnipeg at this point you can’t connect with Fruit Connect yet, um but we really hope to um, broaden the network around linking fruit owners and fruit pickers together. So hopefully in the next few years, we can expand outside of Winnipeg, maybe outside of Manitoba and really support fruit pickers across the country to share all the great fruit that’s coming off their yards.

Heidi: Ok, awesome, well that sounds like an exciting future for Fruit Share and of course, the more fruit picked, the more people helped with the donation of the fruit and so that is just really exciting and we look forward to watching and seeing where it goes. Danielle, thank you so much for interviewing with me today and best of luck with everything.

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