This summer had tons of rain and very little sunshine. Luckily, we saw some sunshine at the end of August and in September to ripen the local fruit! We heard from so many people that their apples were much smaller than usual, but that didn’t stop us from breaking records in our Backyard Harvest. Most people seemed to feel that the apples were about three weeks behind this year. We also didn’t get too much in the way of early snow storms or hard frosts so there are still apples out there on the trees that are doing well!
Ok, enough of the farmer weather chit chat 😉 Let’s get to the numbers…
2019 Backyard Harvest Totals
This year we collected over 36,000 pounds of local fruit!
That is mostly apples but also includes several thousand pounds of pears, sour cherries, rhubarb, plums, and saskatoons. This is 3x the amount we collected last year. To put that amount of apples into context, that is the weight of 18 adult male bison!
We are so excited that this fruit didn’t go to waste! We also gave as much leftover pressed apple as possible to local farmers to feed their animals to try and close the loop on the waste.
It takes a village to save this much food from being wasted. We could not have done this without the support of our community.
We had 288 different families donate fruit to us – so many people even came multiple times!
Several times a week, we stopped into Edmonton’s Food Bank to pick up apples that they were not able to be used due to quality, condition, or over abundance of perishable donations in a very short period of time. With that teamwork, we processed 3684 lbs of apples. We can’t wait to turn those apples into a monetary donation for them!
We are very thankful to the many Community Leagues that spread the word about our Backyard Harvest program! We had a wonderful time at the Lendrum Harvest Festival doing a demo cider pressing and taking donations for our cider as well as for Edmonton’s Food Bank.
With Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE), we did both rhubarb and crab apple blitz events where we harvested food all over the city. We had so much doing Community Cider Pressings with OFRE. It was great to press apples and chat with everyone about turning it into cider!
We couldn’t have done this without the huge support from people sharing our posts on social media, telling their friends and neighbours, and cheering us on! We had 7,494 people reached with Our Vision for Edmonton’s Apples post on Facebook! We asked everyone who donated where they heard about us. Besides our own online presence and seeing it on the news, the greatest referral to our Backyard Harvest was hearing it from friends and family. So thank you!
2019 Harvest Season Reflections
We wanted to share some of our highlights of the season from us and our core volunteers:
I enjoyed finding new apple pressing music to keep myself motivated. Spending so much time pressing meant finding enough new music to keep things interesting. This ultimately lead to a rediscovery of many classic 90s hits, some Latin pop and a mixture of music from any era that was upbeat enough to keep me going for long hours.
People have a deep connection to apples and apple trees in this city!! I loved hearing all the different recipes and creative uses of apples. I loved hearing how people had taken tons of apples to all their neighbours. But most of all, I loved the stories about your family, your memories, and your love – your grandpa who was an expert at grafting and created a beautiful multi-graft tree that you still enjoy after he has passed on – or the love story between you and your husband and how it relates beautifully to the two trees in your yard – the beautiful stories of life and loss and love.
I loved the Lendrum Harvest Festival. It was so neat to realize how such a simple thing like apples can bring a community together! Another highlight was when we were working at the cidery with (Kristy’s) Auntie Shelley and Uncle Orest and Caleb brought us dinner with homemade ratatouille. I also really appreciated every time Kristy would feed me gummy sour soother candies while I was working the grinder and wearing gloves.
My favourite thing about this season was getting into the working groove with Nathan. We worked really well together and were able to increase our efficiency to process a greater volume of apples every time we pressed. Also, Nathan bought me Arby’s when we moved juice…
I became one with apples.
That’s honestly how I feel. I didn’t know there was so much to know about apples. I learned so much and spent so much time with them and now… I feel like I am one.
I enjoyed experimenting with local fruit to create interesting new recipes. It was fun to be creative and try and use local fruit in a new way. I loved bringing dinner to the cidery as a surprise to feed hungry people overwhelmed with apples. Ya’ll have terrible taste in music that you play while working (it’s like music for robots without the ability to hear), so I enjoyed listening to that and laughing at it. Also when the bottom of a giant box of apples broke in the alley while Kristy was carrying it and she rolled in them like Scrouge McDuck.
Thank You for Your Help This Season!
We are so happy with the outcomes of this season! Our juice is in freezer storage until the construction is completed on our future home. We will have more details and reveals in the coming weeks about where you will be able to find us and when you can purchase some cider.
Also stay tuned for the announcement of our Backyard Harvest Club winners for this season!!
We are going to take a tiny hibernation break and then we will be back at it, planning for next year! What do you think our goal number of rescued apples should be for next year?!?