Niagara is in need of an underground fruit economy.
Not sure what it is? Well, here’s a link to a story in the New York Times that can fill you in. It was new to me until I read this story and became inspired by it. I would love to see something like this — harvests of neighbourhood fruit trees, sharing the bounty with the block, creating mini co-ops — right here in Niagara.
I’ve driven and walked past properties with trees ripe for the picking; the nut trees in the fall in Fenwick, back in my days as a Pelhamite (or is it Pelhamer?). I remember passing a pear tree en route to my favourite cheese shop where some of my favourite, not-so-local goat and sheep cheeses abound, thinking what a waste as it lay rotting on the ground. I didn’t dare pick or pick-up any of the fruit, thinking it would be a big faux pas. And after reading the Times story, I’m kicking myself for walking by. Ditto with the chestnuts that were strewn about Canboro Road. At work, I hear a co-worker talk regularly of the cherry tree in his front yard and how much he relishes the harvest (thank goodness someone is using their fruit trees for something more than decoration). I’ve seen others bearing the bulbous fruit in overgrown, forgotten orchards in yards severed from farms in the pre-greenbelt days, languishing, begging to be picked.
Niagara isn’t just in need of this — it’s begging for it. Imagine trading in some of those apples weighing down the branches in your yard for another’s pears. Or the cherries for the peaches that come on at the tail end of cherry season? Or peaches for plums or nectarines?
If anyone out there is interested in trying to organize/co-ordinate this with me and has ideas for how to do it, I’d love to hear from you. Even being able to co-ordinate volunteers to pick and donate to the food bank, if that’s more up your alley. All ideas welcome!