Thanks so much for mentioning us. We strive to make an impact on local food waste and educating people about the unique biodiversity right in their backyards.

Video: UK activists look to use wasted food

I came across this great little video through the Aljazeera network about UK activists involved in food gleaning projects, who are hoping to draw attention to the amount of food that goes to waste as well as to show ways people can make a positive impact on local food access.

IMG_3499 IMG_3501 IMG_3502OFRE volunteers glean fruit from urban trees and share the bounty with many groups to help build community through food. It’s part of our mandate to get locally grown fruits into the hands, mouths, and minds of Edmontonians. A somewhat newer initiative of OFRE is to do farm gleans to rescue the end of harvest vegetables. It all started a couple years ago when we got a call from a farm in Pigeon Lake area asking us if we rescue vegetables. The thought hadn’t really crossed our minds before, and that’s probably because we are quite overwhelmed with just trying to keep up with the fruit requests! Our first farm glean at Gone Green Acres Farm in 2011 was a great success, and the interest has grown from there. Last fall OFRE volunteers went to a local farm Riverbend Gardens, which you may have heard of before in regards to the Horsehill ASP and Friends of Farmers initiative. They are working hard to keep their farm as farmland. They care deeply about growing local food and want to be able to continue doing that in the future but are facing many challenges from city council, apathy, and developers who are wanting to ever expand the suburbs.  At Riverbend Gardens, OFRE volunteers rescued approx. 7-10 tonnes of vegetables! Can you imagine?! 5 tonnes were donated to the Salvation Army in Edmonton who run hot meal programs for people living in the inner city and dish out over 400 meals a day! They were very excited about the fresh vegetables to cook up for fall meals making hearty soups, stews, and casseroles. Yum! The rest of the vegetables were divided up among the volunteers who came out for the day and Riverbend Gardens. I think it’s so powerful to see local farms reach out to organizations such as ours to help them get the rest of the harvest out of their fields and share the bounty of locally grown food with a wide network of people who can benefit from it. It’s such a great initiative and I look forward to seeing it expand in the future!

Here is the video called: UK activists look to use wasted food.

OFRE Orchard & Cider Shack Design Charrette, March 16, 2013

OFRE volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes to plan some exciting projects for the 2013 season. Projects that involve you, our community!

DETAILS – the what, where & when:
OFRE is pleased to announce an open design charrette to help in the design of community orchard and cider shack on an inner city site.  The charrette will take place on Saturday March 16th 11-4pm at Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. office located in Commerce Place on Jasper ave and 102ndstreet. (accessible by bus, lrt, parking on street available, but limited).
IMG_1567Why an orchard?
OFRE is working to build a community orchard and cider shack to help us reach our goals of providing education workshops and outreach to
Edmontonians.  We will be able to provide OFRE with a home and continue to build on the strength of partner
ships.  This bountiful partnership with the city will be fruitful for years to come!
The goal of the charrette is to provide design options and generate ideas for the construction of a permaculture based designed orchard with a small on site cider shack for the storage of tools and cider making equipment.

Who can participate? If you are passionate about design, have knowledge of permaculture principles or building technology, we want YOU to be a part of our design charrette!

Please RSVP to: Mike Johnson, email: Jmjohnson79@hotmail.com, ph:780-318-4628

Edmonton Permaculture monthly speaker series – Eating Local, Monday, Mar 4, 6pm

So, are you free this monday evening and want to hear about local food resources and initiatives going on in the city? If so, come to the Riverdale Rink House for their monthly speaker series. Potluck starts at 6, talk starts at 7pm!

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IMG_1432 “Eating Local – A panel presentation of how to reduce your carbon footprint by eating local”.

There is lots of talk about eating local these days. The big question is HOW?? When so many of the food stores deliver from all parts of the world, and we have snow covering our growing for so long, how does one access local food year round in Edmonton?

This month we will hear from a number of people actively involved in the local food scene. Each one will do a short presentation on their area of expertise, and help us to understand how we can eat more local food throughout the year.

  • Anita Gregoire has run an Urban CSA for 5 years, focusing on growing gardeners and reclaiming lost agricultural land. She will talk about what brought us to our current food system, and how Community Supported Agriculture can help.
  • Tam Anderson has been in operating Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm for nearly 30 years, offering u-pick strawberries, peas, potatoes. She grows 10 acres of pumpkins, a CSA garden, a corn maze and hosts on farm food festivals. Proud recipient of the Direct Farm Marketer of the year awards, she will discuss U-pick and market gardens
  • Amy Beaith will talk about accessing local fruit through OFRE and the importance of preserving the fruits of your labour. She will briefly talk about her involvement with culinary education and “Shovel and Fork”.
  • John Schneider is a fourth generation Canadian Farmer of 400 acres of certified organic grains, and heritage or heirloom varieties of vegetables, livestock and grains that represent a safeguard against possible collapse of conventional agriculture. His family runs Gold Forest Grains and markets their stone-milled grains directly to consumers via farmers markets and retail stores in Edmonton. John will talk about his journey, including farmer’s markets and eating seasonally.
  • Chantelle Leidle is a consumer. Although she is not a specialist in any of the above areas, she has managed to eat local for the whole year. Through her small backyard garden and connections with other groups, her family has vastly increased their local food consumption. She will share thoughts from her journey towards personal sustainability for her family.

IMG_1362Where & When?

Riverdale Rink House, 100 Ave and 92 Street
Potluck at 6 (please bring dish and your own cutlery and dishes), speakers start at 7. You are welcome to attend all or part. Admission by donation.
Follow the event on Facebook under Edmonton Permaculture Group. Contact Anita Gregoire www.onborrowedground.com for more details.

Inspiring food new stories on Terra Informa

A couple weeks ago I got to meet Nikki Wiart of Terra Informa and be part of a food series show they were putting together for this week.

The show will be airing today, January 29th at 5pm on 88.5 fm. You can also listen to the podcast on the Terra Informa website right now or whenever it works for you. There is lots of great information on the Terra Informa site about the speakers and local food organizations you can connect with.

On the podcast there is also interviews with Crystal Sherris and Raj Patel! Raj Patel is coming to Edmonton tomorrow and will be giving a lunch time talk at City hall and is a guest speaker Wednesday night as part of U of A’s International week. Raj is one of my heroes, so was pretty excited to get included in the same podcast as him and am looking forward to hearing him speak tomorrow.

Voting begins! OFRE’s community cider shack project!

Have you ever tasted OFRE cider? If so, I bet you agree it’s the best in town! It’s unique, it’s pedal-powered, every batch has different variety of apples in it, and it’s made by volunteers who build sweat equity and go home with some cider for their efforts. Sounds like a win win, right?!

carbon farmer grant posterWhat is in store for OFRE in 2013? OFRE has applied for a micro-grant funded by The Carbon Farmer to get some funding to help us build a community cider shack! We want to build on the success of the small cider events we have held in the past to having a permanent location for processing cider. This would be a place for OFRE members to come together to process their apples and walk home with cider for their efforts.  Pressing cider is a family friendly event. Everyoen can get involved from the old to the young. Sweat equity is encouraged followed by generous consumption of delicious cider from apples grown right here in your city!

OFRE’s vision is to get the fruit in the hands, mouths, and minds of Edmonton’s citizens. Help us get more fruit picked, pressed, and enjoyed and reduce the waste that ends up in the landfill!

What can you do to help? Vote for us on the Facebook contest page. You can vote once a day for the whole month. It’s a highest number of votes wins kind of contest, so vote often if you can!

Thank you for your support!

Avenue Top 40 under 40 – Two OFRE volunteers recognized!

This past week Avenue magazine had their annual Top 40 under 40 awards where they recognize people they feel are leaders in the community and are contributing to the building of a better Edmonton. OFRE is pleased to announce that 2 of the recipients were core OFRE members who have been contributing to OFRE by volunteering as fruit pickers, visioning crew members, fruit captains, and spreading the word about the good work OFRE is doing. Those winners are: Kevin Kossowan and Amy Beaith-Johnson. Congrats to all of the 40 winners!!

To read each of their stories, click on their names above. To see the full list of 40 winners, check here.

 

Building community through food: MacEwan Apple Project

As the Director of OFRE, I often get more requests for interesting partnership projects than we can handle in a season and it’s hard at times to say no. But, that is sometimes the case when you are working a volunteer run organization. One project that came by our desk this year was a partnership with MacEwan business students to donate apples to their campus foodbank. One of the group leaders of this project is Jacquie Lycka who joined OFRE this year as a Neighborhood Fruit Captain, approached us about the idea. When we heard what they wanted to do, we couldn’t help but say yes!  She has been a instrumental volunteer with OFRE and I knew with her energy and joy for apples, this project would get off the ground and be a success.

Here is a great short video the students put together on their apple project. Please watch and show your support for this great cause to increase healthy food donations to foodbanks on campuses. It’s inspiring, fun, and may cause you to think outside the kraft dinner box! Enjoy!

It’s so great when we do get an opportunity like this to partner with other organizations and help build a stronger food community in Edmonton. Thanks Jacquie and congratulations on your project!!

P.S. follow updates about the project via Twitter: @MacEwanApple

OFRE volunteers attending Slow Food’s Terra Madre!!

This post is LONG, LONG, overdue! Earlier this summer, I received a call from a Slow Food Edmonton Convivium member to let me know that I had been nominated to attend Terra Madre in October in Italy for my volunteer work as Director of Operation Fruit Rescue. They and us believe that OFRE helps build stronger food communities and they wanted us to be recognized for that. I was humbled to be nominated and owe a big THANK YOU to Slow Food Edmonton for this honour!

We would also like to thank Food & Beverage Canada for helping to fund our trip through the Alberta Technology Innovation Program (ATIP), which means that Mike Johnson, another OFRE volunteer and OFRE cider brew master, got to come along as well.

One of the many interesting things at Terra Madre is that all delegates spend some time volunteering at their countries booth, and if they are a producer, they are to bring samples and will be paired with a local chef to make an interesting dish to give out. OFRE was invited to bring their award-winning cherry amaretto syrup!!

Terra Madre will be eye-opening, jaw dropping, head-scratching, satisfyingly great experience! There is everything from learn to cook workshops, food tastings, food security and food sovereignty lectures, and more! There will be people from all over the world sharing their love and interest in good, clean, fair food for all! We are honoured to be selected to represent some of the exciting food initiatives happening in Edmonton! We also look forward to the possibility of making connections with artisan preservers to learn new and old ways of preserving fruits, making cider, etc.

Upon return, Mike and I hope to put together a series of presentations on what we learned there and how this knowledge can contribute to building a stronger food community in Edmonton. Stay tuned!