The WIld Farm: A Kickstart that’s ALMOST There!

Imagine a farm that wasn’t a farm.  A farm that didn’t use irrigation.  One that lacked pesticides.  Omitted fertilizer.  Didn’t use tilling.

Heck, it wouldn’t even be planted year after year.

That’s what our friend Tama is proposing:

[Read more...]

Tama Matsuoka Wong (Forager) Speaks at TEDxManhattan

I’m thrilled to call Tama Matsuoka Wong a friend.

We met her briefly for the first time early in 2012 before having the pleasure of sharing a weekend with her and learning more about foraging. If her name or story isn’t familiar to you, here’s my ‘Coles Notes’: she lived all over the world as a lawyer before changing careers and becoming a forager.

But her story is better in her words than mine and, thanks you YouTube and TEDxManahattan (an independently organized TED event), you can see her share her story. She’s vibrant, engaging, funny and passionate… about weeds:

If you want to learn more about Tama, philosophy or her book, check out our review from last year.  It continues to inspire me.

An Inspired School Greenhouse Program

We recently posted a series on urban gardens which included a picture of this school greenhouse:

An Inspired School Greenhouse Program

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Celebrating 5 Years of Not Far From the Tree

Last night marked the 5th birthday of one of our favorite food fighting organizations – Not Far From the Tree.  They are an amazing charity with a simple purpose: salvage as much as possible of the estimated 1,000,o00 pounds of fruit that rots on trees around Toronto.
Celebrating 5 Years of Not Far From the Tree [Read more...]

Food Day and The Revolution

When Lilia Smelkova approached the microphone she exuded a quiet confidence that could have easily been mistaken for intimidation.  She was standing in front of 450 passionate Chefs, Food Writers, Advocates and other Peers at Terroir 6.  I had no idea what to expect and wasn’t bracing for much.

Within seconds of speaking, I knew I had better be taking notes.  Originally from Belarus, she had worked in Italy for 10 years with Slow Food before launching it into Canada, Eastern and Central Europe.  Her resume (you can see more of her bio here) reads like that of a modern day food warrior – and she is. [Read more...]

Fruit is Wasting – A Reminder About Not Far From the Tree

The urban harvest is in full swing.  Our city has already seen cherries (though a much smaller yield this year than previously), plums are coming through the urban orchard, mulberries are around, serviceberries have been spotted and sidewalks are getting stained everywhere.  Urban fruit is being enjoyed across the city – and is wasting on lawns, trees and sidewalks around this city.

Please help us by raising awareness for the amazing work the Not Far From the Tree does by watching and sharing this video, sharing it and considering to volunteer or donate to the cause.

Click on the “YouTube” button to be brought to the homepage of the video on YouTube or click here for CanUrbOrg’s homepage on YouTube where you can see other similar videos of amazing urban projects.

Not Far From the Tree are great friends of WellPreserved and have a simple mission:

  • Harvest as much of Toronto’s 1,000,000+ pounds of fruit that often goes to waste by rotting, covering lawns and sidewalk.
  • Provide a third of the fruit to volunteers (who are powered by bicycle), a third to the owners of the trees and a third to community organizations across the city.

They picked 20,000 pounds of fruit last year!

Dana helped design an infographic to show the teams progress from conception in 2008.

You can register to join a pick, register your tree, buy cool swag to support or donate to help the cause.  The work they do is simply amazing and it happens because of people like you!

The Great Big Crunch is Today!!!

Our friends at Not Far From the Tree are heping champion an awesome project which is being led by FoodShare (another wicked program in our city) called The Great Big Crunch (you can read all of the details on the project here).

What’s the deal?  Imagine 65,000+ students across Canada biting into an apple at the exact same time!

The program is an initiative to help raise awareness of healthy eating, local diets and food awareness through our schools (though I plan to have a big ‘ol bite and join along at 2:30EST this afternoon). 

I’m particularly impressed at the amount of resources FoodShare has made available to teachers as part of the program.  There’s a very cool countdown clock here.

The hashtag on twitter is #gbc2011 (you can click on that for live updates from participants – even if you don’t have Twitter).  Foodshare can be found on Twitter here.

Regardless of where you’re from, why don’t you join along?  Would love to know who’s crunching with us (and check out the great resources linked above).

Pick Me!

Hey! Did you know that there is approximately 1.5 MILLION POUNDS of fruit growing in TORONTO? There’s a way to keep it from falling on the ground, making a mess and going to waste…before I tell you how you can help out…let’s start with some background….

I’m a people person, and I like to work collaboratively…. Working on your own from home can be a challenge when the only one sharing your studio is the dog. That’s why I have a tendency to pick projects based on who I’d like to spend time with, and who like to work as collaboratively as I do…and people who are passionate about the story they want to tell.

Pick Me! November [Read more...]

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet: Gleaning (aka free fruit)

It’s been a while since we’ve gushed about Not Far From The Tree.

If you are unfamiliar with this awesome Toronto non-profit, here’s the Coles Notes version of what they do:

  1. They find home owners who have fruit trees on private properties (who are often a little frustrated with their tree – too much food for one person and a lawn full of apples has to be cleared before one can cut the grass).
  2. The find volunteers to harvest the tree.
  3. One-third of the fruit goes to charity (food banks and shelters who are often short of food and almost always short of fresh fruit), one-third to the owner and the remaining to the volunteers.
  4. Most of the fruit is now distributed by bicycle power.

They picked more than 8,000 pounds last year.  That’s an abundance of free fruit and while it’s Toronto-based those of you who are in other places could find a similar arrangement by talking with your neighbors.  I don’t know a single person who uses all of their fruit from a single tree (it can actually be overwhelming).

Speaking of Not Far From the Tree is organizing an annual fundraiser to get the year off to a running start.  While they are always looking for volunteers, they are also looking for funding to help secure the time and materials for these harvests as well as their educational campaigns, public events and workshops.

The fundraiser takes shape in the form of a film screening and party.  Tickets are a very reasonable $15 and those who purchase them in advance will benefit from a free drink ticket.  Knowing that Chef Sharon Bergey (Jamie Kennedy Kitchens) has come up with a theme-inspired cocktail means that these tickets will be well worth having!

I should also mention that each encounter we’ve had with NFFTT has been full of friendly people who have been a whole lot of fun.  There will likely be some lively discussion after the film and a lot of friendly people to share the experience with.

Here’s the details:

Thursday, May 20th
At The Toronto Underground Cinema
186 Spadina Ave, entrance off Cameron Street, just north of Queen St W
Doors open at 6:30
Screening at 7:30
Reception following the film.
Advance tickets are $15 and include a cocktail

Tickets available for online purchase ( or by calling (416) 908-3022.

Hope you enjoy – we’re going to try to make it out – send us a message here or on Twitter if you are going and we’d love to say hi.

We started this series of posts in response to many things – an undeniable motivator (as previously shared) was the focus on poverty and eating well and a particular scene in Food, Inc which spoke to the cost of good food vs. `filler`.  The entire series of affordable approaches to good food is here.

They Tapped That (and you can too on Sunday)

We have written about our friends at Not Far from the Tree several times (some of those are here and here).  We simply adore them and have met many great people and friends through them.  Their website is here.

The group was formed by Toronto resident (and New Brunswick native), Laura Reinsborough is a passionate advocate of our city, the environment, local eating and the intersection of all 3.  Laura, along with a small army of volunteers, are changing our city.

The non-profit program started by offering a service to home owners with fruit trees.  Fruit trees are lovely but can be a source of pain through their abundance – once you’ve eaten, shared  and preserved all you can, the remaining fruit often drops to the ground, makes a mess, smells, attract flies, gets in the way of the lawnmower, etc.  Not Far From the Tree will come to your house and clear your tree of all it’s fruit.  1/3 of the fruit goes to the tree owner, 1/3 to the volunteers and 1/3 to charity.

They harvested 8,135 pounds of fruit downtown Toronto last year.

Now they’ve expanded their focus:

They Tapped That (and you can too on Sunday)

The program is largely one to make us think different about the urban forest, our city and food sources.  The program is supported by the city (there had been initial reports of concerns that were completely overcome) and the group has tapped 12 urban Norway Maple trees to gather the syrup.  There is a sugaring off party this Sunday, March 14.  The event runs from 1-4pm (you can find the details here).

T-shirts are also available on their website.

I love the imagination of Laura and her team.  I adore that there will be people gathered around a late winter harvest from within our city walls.

If you’re in the area and want to meet some great people, be sure to pop by.  We haven’t planned our weekend yet but if we can make it, we’ll be there…