5 years young
a message from the director Pollinators have a fascinating view of our city. I’m convinced that they see it much as I do now: as a vast urban orchard, each blossoming fruit tree connected to the next, spanning the full breadth of our metropolis. And yet, most fruit trees in the city stand singly in a backyard, seemingly disconnected from other plants around them. Of the 1300 trees registered with Not Far From The Tree so far, for example, they are on 1000 separate properties. ro b
One apple tree survives because another apple tree is just a few blocks over. The blossoms emerge and two single trees are cross-pollinated: across property lines, across fences, across the neighbourhood. The urban orchard inspires community. It invites us to work together to put the harvest to good use.
to * ev e nt s c o o r d i na
ng p ic k i
paul stewart *
We are moving this momentum forward with the creation of our first-ever strategic plan, looking five years ahead to see what more we can accomplish (pp. 8-9). We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to plan for how Not Far From The Tree’s work will unfold and mature. This is a moment of great potential for Not Far From The Tree and the positive change that we are capable of making in our communities.
The 2012 fruit-picking season marks a pivotal moment for Not Far From The Tree. We can now reflect on five years of growth (pp. 4-5), of making substantial progress in engaging residents in hands-on environmental action (pp. 6-7), and of sharing the model we’ve built across Toronto and beyond.
I am continually amazed by the people who, through Not Far From The Tree, pull together to build community at a neighbourhood level. Now with 1400 active volunteers, this crew has collectively harvested nearly 50,000 lbs. of fruit since our first season five years ago.
In fruitful solidarity,
a i na
b i l i t y i nt e r n
s l a u ra re i n
e ng * c o m mu n i t y
s t ra
* p ro j e c t d i re c t o r
c ia l i s t
l s o c ia
Not Far From The Tree is Toronto’s very own fruit tree project, inspiring Torontonians to harvest, share, celebrate, and steward the bounty from our urban forest as a way to connect more intimately with a sound environmental way of life.
activate the abundance of local food from trees in our city
Through our fruit picking program, we mobilize volunteers to harvest fruit from trees on residential property, in 14 neighbourhoods across the city.
bring attention to our urban ecology, particularly its food-producing elements
Did you know? There are now 47 social service agencies (local food banks, shelters or community kitchens) signed up to receive our fruit donations to put fresh, healthy food into their emergency programming. In 2012, we successfully delivered over 6,000 lbs. of fruit to 18 of these agencies...by bike!
1/3 to the
our steering committee... 1/ 3
the volunto teers
s c he n * c h a i r
build community by enabling people to work together at a neighbourhood level
social servto ic agencies e
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thank you to our supreme gleaners
j o d i l a s t ma n
an ua i my - b a r ke r
dy g old
b e n ma r a n
Agnes “bob” Gentili Ali Berkok Allana Mayer Avery Peters Ben Watt-Meyer Blake Williams Bradley Smith Carolyn Crawley Carolyn Young Celeste O’Neil Chelsea Thoren Chloe Coves Denis Lefebvre Fawn Edwards Ian Dickinson Jenna Hossack Jennifer Gordon
John Maclean Malgosia Halliop Megan Kenzie Missa Bolibruck Nikki Fotheringham Paula Coutinho Phyllis Scott Rebecca Dehmassi Rebekka Hutton Ryan White Sarah Hoffman Silvia Yee Simon Ford Steve Leckie Tania Davidson Tyler Seguin Val Colden
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In 2012, volunteers contributed 34% of the project’s total hours. That’s about 6500 hours of heart and soul helping to craft a better world. This includes leading and participating in fruit picks, behind-the-scenes office work, pro bono advisory services, strategic governance, as well as acting as ambassadors at events all around the city.
Overall, volunteer engagement increased by a whopping 96% since 2011. A large part of this success is credited to bringing Becky Thomas to the team here at Not Far From The Tree HQ. When we tipped the scale at 1000 volunteers over the winter of 2011, we knew it was about time we bring somebody to the team with volunteer coordination experience. Becky has since proven that this was a wise move.
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Hey Becky! Tell us how you came to Not Far From The Tree. I became an instant fan a few years back when I happened upon a group of cherry pickers in my neighbourhood. A couple years later, I had the opportunity to see Not Far From The Tree’s Founder, Laura Reinsborough, speak and I was inspired by the project’s ability to address a multitude of issues in such a fun and simple way. When an opportunity to work with Not Far From The Tree became available, I jumped at the chance. I have continued to be inspired by the project and the community that supports it ever since.
Through our volunteer program, we offer a wide range of opportunities to engage in hands-on community action, connect with neighbours, build new skills, and have fun in the process.
Tell us about Not Far From The Tree’s volunteer opportunities? In the last two years alone, over 1600 people have signed up to volunteer with us. This offer of support is an incredible resource, and we strive to create space for as many people as possible to get involved in the project in meaningful ways. While the majority of our volunteer opportunities involve helping with the harvest, we also engage people interested in lending skills in other ways like writing and editing, planning events, sharing artistic talents, baking and preserving, raising funds, providing strategic guidance, analyzing statistics, and so much more. Volunteers are integral to everything we do.
You had some great achievements in 2012? We significantly increased our volunteer opportunities, by creating 788 fruit picking opportunities, and training 49 community members to lead fruit picks. We also created over 150 event-related volunteer opportunities, and over 50 for people to volunteer behind-the-scenes. Applying their skills and passion to assist with strategic planning, administration, communications, fundraising, evaluation and more. Overall, we doubled our total number of volunteer opportunities in 2012, and greatly diversified the range of experiences we have to offer.
Was this expensive to implement? How did you keep costs down? We have some wonderful champions supporting our volunteer program. In 2012, we received a grant funded by KPMG through the Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital Ideas program. We’ve also received funding from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to sustain and grow our volunteer program over the next two years. We’ve also been able to keep costs down through community support. For example, many of the social service agencies that we share fruit with offer free or discounted meeting space and resources for volunteer activities.
Has Not Far From The Tree become a model for other organizations? We have connected with fruit tree projects both nationally and internationally, and developed some wonderful symbiotic relationships as a result. Not Far From The Tree has helped a number of projects get started and develop programming, especially around community engagement. For instance, we had representatives from sister projects in Ottawa and Montreal audit our volunteer training sessions.
What do you have planned for volunteers in 2013? We have some exciting plans for 2013! We’ll be establishing volunteer-led neighbourhood teams in three of the neighbourhoods where we operate. The idea is to draw on the skills and passions that exist in each neighbourhood to increase our capacity to pick and share fruit, and further our efforts to build community, put local food to good use, and promote environmentally-conscious thinking. We’ll also be creating more behind-the-scenes volunteer opportunities throughout the year, engaging people looking to share their skills and have a big impact.
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How long have you worked with Not Far From the Tree? This is my 5th season. I met Laura Reinsborough in university. Later, I heard through the ‘food security grapevine’ that Laura had started an exciting fruit picking project. I applied and was hired in August 2009 at the height of pear and apple season! It was a steep learning curve made so much easier through incredible staff and volunteer support. As the Picking Coordinator, one of the things I find stimulating is how multi-faceted the work challenges are. Various things can happen on picks: equipment is missing, gleaners aren’t showing up, the tree isn’t there, the homeowners have no ladders and they said there would be . . . so there’s a lot of things that need to be clarified and that’s just on the pick side. There’s a lot of managing of people’s expectations as to what we do, what it is that we are delivering, and what we stand for. Quite often during the year, I have to explain why everyone can’t get on a pick. I point out that sometimes picks don’t get filled at all — usually crabapple picks. Nobody wants to pick crabapples. Poor crabapples.
How many picks do you usually co-ordinate? I Organized 198 separate picking events between June and October 2012. At the height of cherry season last year I lead 4 picks in one day!
Picking the apple tree at Il Gatto Nero has always been a highlight. It literally grows out of the café’s patio in full view of the hustle and bustle of College Street. Passersby ask questions, try fruit, or simply stop to cheer us on. It’s exhilarating! What keeps you coming back? The staff team is brilliant. I am always so inspired by our volunteers. I love the passion and commitment of our supreme gleaners! Our stalwart gleaners are incredible and I always look forward to getting to know them. One of the great things about Not Far From The Tree is that it means so many different things to different people. For some it means food security, for some it means less waste, for others community engagement is important, it’s a great social opportunity, and a way to feel you’re giving back to the community. Not Far From The Tree provides an option for people who want to get engaged with this big thing called urban agriculture.
What is the biggest challenge of your job? The biggest challenge of my job is ensuring that every tree that can be picked in our working area is picked. I don’t enjoy saying no. And many times I’ve had to say ‘No, we can’t pick your fruit tree because I don’t have the resources to organize the pick.’ These resources have included an insufficient number of supreme gleaners or time to follow up with homeowners who have not replied to an email or a phone message. These shortages are most profoundly felt when cherries, mulberries, and serviceberries all mature around the same time in late June and then with the inundation of grapes, pears, and apples in late August and early September. Beyond the increased stress and workload on current staff and supreme gleaner team, the effect of these shortages simply means we can’t get to every tree that is ready to be picked. Last year we managed to pick 28% of trees registered in our work area. We have calculated that if we had had additional resources such as more supreme gleaners or an additional staff person we could have picked up to 60% of trees registered in our work area.
B e n Wa t t - M
For the 2013 season, here are some of the ways we’ll be building our capacity so that when the fruit is ripe on the tree, we’ll be there: Increasing our official scope to a total of 15 neighbourhoods Developing new, behind-the-scenes volunteers to leverage staff capacity Launching the pilot phase of a Neighbourhood Teams volunteer infrastructure in 3 neighbourhoods Increasing the hours and people power for coordinating picks by creating the new position of Picking Program Assistant Training Supreme Gleaners earlier, more often, and in more diverse geographic locations Researching and beginning to implement a new database and scheduling system to reduce manual input currently required by staff Designing and launching a new website with clearer information about what to expect from the fruit picking program Devising Not Far From The Tree’s firstever Strategic Plan, which will set the course for the next five years
We have a good thing going. Now it’s time to make it great!
g l e a ne r
In order to be sustainable in the long-term, we recognize the need to diversify income sources from supporters such as individuals, families, and businesses. We’ve been able to do a lot with a little. Non-salary items (such as insurance, fruit picking equipment, cargo bikes, office supplies, printing, events, administrative resources, and office rental) make up just 27% of total expenses, thanks to our innovative model. We’ve assembled a solid staff team from year to year – the happy folks who connect the dots between the trees, the pickers, the eaters, and the model that pulls it all together. We’re proud of our strong retention rate of dedicated folks, including the seasonal staff like Marc who is returning in 2013 for his fifth consecutive season! Not Far From The Tree is a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society (TCI), a shared administrative platform that powers over 35 innovative social change projects across Canada. In short, the platform helps projects focus on what they do best by providing governance, compliance, financial management, human resources, risk management and grant administration. As a project of TCI, we benefit from economies of scale, thereby reducing costs and improving the effectiveness of what we do.
ou! Thank Y FPO
Brookfield Properties Management Corp.
Anne Rochon Ford
Judith Saunders Allen
Mary Ann Maki
Beauâ€™s All Natural Brewing Company Ltd. Edelman Canada Hypenotic Johnson Controls North Toronto Collegiate Institute (NEAT Fundraising) Patagonia Environment Fund The Big Carrot --------------------------Eric Anderson
MAILING ADDRESS Not Far From The Tree 401 Richmond St. W., Suite 365 Toronto, ON M5V 3A8
Not Far From The Tree is a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society, a registered Canadian charity.
firstname.lastname@example.org 647.774.PICK (7425) www.notfarfromthetree.org
Graphic Design/Illustration: Dana Harrison of wellpreserved.ca Annual Report Visionary: Christina Butty
Charitable BN#13056 0188 RR0001
“I help Not Far From The Tree because I want to get involved in the community, I like what Not Far From The Tree is doing and it’s fun to pick fruit!” cindy volunteer fruit picker
“My most memorable experience so far was the serviceberry pick I did this summer with two other Supreme Gleaners. We did three trees on one street, all in front yards. We met so many people who were walking down the street and we were able to tell them that, yes, these berries are edible!” jenna volunteer Supreme Gleaner
We are poised to make Not Far From The Tree a truly great project that can meet the outstanding demand for what we do. Your support will be what makes that difference! You can:
Make a donation to see Not Far From The Tree be as fruitful as can be:
donate via our website
or by cheque to: Tides Canada Initiatives – Not Far From The Tree 401 Richmond St. W. Suite 365, Toronto, ON, M5V 3A8
Get involved as a volunteer Supreme Gleaner to lead 2-5 picks per month from July to October Help run a fundraiser in your community (like a dinner, pie sale, or raffle) to pick fruit from more trees in the neighbourhood Put your professional skills to good use by volunteering behind-the-scenes in the office Spread the word about Not Far From The Tree to neighbours with abundant fruit trees – or register their tree yourself (with their permission, of course!) Become a monthly donor and see your gift reach its full potential. Fill out the donor form included in this yearbook, or give us a call at 647-774-PICK (7425)