Author Archives: ofredmonton

Thanks for a great 2015 season!

We are closing fruit registration and rescue for this year. Stay tuned for a report on how much fruit we rescued this summer.

Thanks to the great volunteers and all generous homeowners who shared their bounty. OFRE would not happen with out you!saskatoons

Once again, the demand for fruit to be picked far exceeded our volunteer capacity. If you or someone you know has some time to give and a passion for local food, encourage them to join OFRE and become a fruit pick volunteer.

We are looking forward to more fruit rescue next year. Thank you all.

Message from the President

Hello, OFRE volunteers, growers, and members of the community
It’s unfortunate that I must issue this statement to inform you that the OFRE cider shack at the McCauley School and the site of the OFRE orchard was broken into on the night of Saturday 13th, 2015.  Critical components for our pedal-powered apples crusher were stolen from the shack, which makes our one-of-a-kind pedal-powered apple crusher unusable.  These items include the stainless steel hopper, and two 20″ bike rims for the seat.
We are upset that someone would break into our shed and steal customized equipment that has no other purpose than to crush apples.  We have used the crusher to bring joy to families, OFRE members, growers and volunteers by crushing thousands of pound of apples over the past 3 years.  OFRE will continue to put on events, with slightly modified equipment to ensure that we continue to educate Edmontonians on the value of locally grown fruit, what type of fruit can grow in the city, and what you can do with that fruit.
We have reported the incident to the police, and a police report has been filled out.  One of our volunteers also contacted the Edmonton Journal on behalf of OFRE to report the incident, and a story was publishedon Sunday night. You can find the article here:http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/peddle+powered+cider+press+goes+after+pieces+stolen+from/11360669/story.html
If you or anyone you know has any information about this, please inform the police, as we would really like our custom equipment back, especially since this is our busy time of year and have events planned for the next two weekends which were supposed to showcase the pedal-powered apple crusher (pictured here).IMG_3186
We will also be starting a fundraising effort to rebuild the critical components to the pedal-powered apple crusher, and hope to raise funds.  Please stay tuned.
Sincerely,
Mike Johnson
OFRE president

OFRE micro-orchard planting party! May 31st, 1-4pm

OFRE officially invites you to our spring planting and orchard clean-up.  May 31st from 1-4pm.  
Last year OFRE undertook the ambitious task of planting one of the first urban orchards on public property in Canada!
OFRE volunteers plant trees in the orchard behind McCauley School on Saturday Sept. 13, 2014. Photo by OFRE

OFRE volunteers plant trees in the orchard behind McCauley School on Saturday Sept. 13, 2014. Photo by OFRE

It took a lot of effort, and we are thrilled to see the fruits of our labour this year. There are buds on several of the trees, and some even have flowers.  As many of you know the FIFA world cup of soccer is coming to Edmonton this summer, and will be taking place at Commonwealth stadium, which is just down the street from the orchard.  So this spring planting and clean up is vital to show the city and people from all over the world what citizens of Edmonton are capable of achieving when we get together and share in a vision of making our city a healthier, more fruitful place to live!

Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.
List of things to be done. This is an permaculture designed orchard. If you are new to any of these tasks, that’s ok. We are a educational organization and happy to teach and learn together! 
  • Move the remaining compost to desired locations around the orchard.
  • Spread straw around the edgings
  • planting the cover crop to fix nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil, increasing soil fertility
  • Relocate 5 trees
  • Plant additional fruit trees and shrubs
  • (if material is provided in time (clad the shed/cider shack with corrugated metal)
What to bring:
  • Dress for the weather – it’s a rain or shine event, unless it’s really awfully stormy. Clothes you can get dirty in, and approriate footwear
  • Bring your own reusable water vessel
  • Work gloves
  • Tools if you have them – shovels, pitch forks, wheelbarrow

Sign up!

Fruit Registration will be available soon!

Thanks to excited growers who have been keen to register your trees with us!

We appreciate your enthusiasm and will have our forms available shortly. Please check back at the end of the month of May to sign up your fruit!

Our picking season get starts in June with Rhubarb and is in full swing by August with berries, cherries, and apples galore, winding up in mid October weather permitting with apples, pears, and crabapples.

 

OFRE President’s Message 2015

My wife talks a lot about the journey of life, enjoying the path, and focusing less on the destination.  The path can lead to something new and unexpected if you don’t purely focus on the destination, it can enrich the destination with experiences along the way.  This is something I have been struggling to learn over the years, because without a destination or goal, then there is no logic to a path and you can wandering aimlessly.  I do however believe that the joy of cooking is about the process not just the end product, even though the end goal is usually a great meal.  Discovering the flavours, textures, and their combinations  through experimentation create experiences that enrich the soul, while if we all just follow a recipe we can miss the extraordinary.  A meal I think is always better if there is a story attached.  With the explosion of Edmonton restaurants offering ‘farm to table’ dinners, it’s getting easier to know where ingredients come from and that local doesn’t just taste better because of the freshness, but because of the story.  It allows people to have an experience beyond taste and connect directly with the food.

A question I ask a lot of people now is: do you know where your food comes from?  For the past 5 years I have learned more about where my food has come from and the problems with the industrial agricultural system.  One of the things I have learned is that Apples are the top of the dirty dozen list, which means that there is more pesticides sprayed on apples than any other food.  This makes it even more important that if you are going to be buying organic, the first one that should be purchased is apples.  However, having saying that, why should you have to purchase apples where there is such an abundance right here in the city.  Some of the best tasting apples grown right here.  It may not be a Fuji, a Pink Lady, or a Gala, but have you ever had a Goodland?  I have been picking apples in Edmonton for 5 years and each year I am impressed with the quality…. but I may be biased because picking fruit gives me a different appreciation of the fruit.  I savor the tart apples, the dolgo crab, and cherish the eating apples.  This is not about going on a trip to the grocery store, this is about the adventure and the journey of picking the fruit right off the tree!  I think it tastes better.

It turns out that tart apples and crab apples are essential to making the perfect cider blend. Four years ago I created what I believe was the perfect cider blend.  A combination of sweet, to tart apples.  It was complex with distinct notes, and not muddled with too many varieties.  I may never be able to recreate that exact flavour combination, but each year I try, but am not worried if I ever recreate it, because it’s not all about the taste, it’s the process that I take each year to create the cider. Every year it tastes unique and is memorable to me as that year’s blend.

Through OFRE, I have found amazing friends, and learned the power of giving, and that sometimes the journey is better than the destination.  This year I hope that you will all slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labour this year.  Come and join OFRE, come for the journey, stay for the cider.