Pick of the Week – A is for Apple

A is for apple…

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Apple blossom time is just finishing. They hold the promise of upcoming apple picks!

Did you know that Edmonton is a zone 3A gardening zone with an average of 140 frost free days a year between May long weekend and September labour day weekend? It’s a great place to garden. I love to garden, but have trouble keeping my digging dogs out of my flower beds!

I’m involved in a local fruit rescue non-profit society called: Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton, also known as OFRE. Since joining their organization, I’ve learned that yes, it’s true, apples, pears, cherries, rhubarb, plums, and even apricots grow here!

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Apple play a major part of my summer activities, not only the lovely blossoms in the spring that fill my backyard, but harvesting and preserving apples collected on fruit picks!

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OFRE helps Edmontonians find the fruit hidden in our city. This is the second year in a row that I am a board member, and I am finding it very rewarding. OFRE connects fruit pick volunteers with homeowners interested in sharing their fruit. When the fruit is harvested at a pick, it is shared with the homeowner, volunteers, and a charitable organization such as the Salvation Army or the Edmonton Food Bank.

We also organize cider pressings, canning, and preserving parties during the fall season for our members to help them eat locally all year round!

Seriously think about becoming a member of our society. Go to our “become a member” page for more information. A great season awaits!

 By Bonnie Patterson-Payne


Pick of the week – June 16th

We are starting a new feature on our blog called Pick of the week that will feature stories of our pickers, bloggers, and other local food enthusiasts telling us stories about local fruit. First up is Mike’s story about picking pears!


Since I caught the bug of picking fruit a few year back, I look at the city of Edmonton differently.  I have my fruit goggles on, and everywhere I look I see fruit trees and the possibilities!  This city is filled with so many fruit trees and hundreds of varieties.

While walking my dog one evening three years ago, my fruit senses came alive as I was walking down a back alley only four blocks from my house.  I saw two amazing pear trees, and there were a few branches that drooped over the fence into the back alley.  I picked a couple of them to have a taste.  At that time I didn’t think Edmonton could grow great pears.  But I was glad to be wrong this once. They were not woody, but were sweet, dripping with juice, and one of the best pears I have ever tasted.  I kept going back for the last 2 years, and each year I saw the pears fall on the ground, and were wasted.  Last year I decided that enough was enough and I would contact the owner to see if they wanted help harvesting their fruit.  They were friendly and were excited about the possibilities of someone picking the pears and taking them away.  I organized an OFRE pick and immediately had two other people sign up.

DSCF4236We picked on a weeknight and since pears ripen in early fall, the darkness fell upon us quickly.  We were out there in the dusk climbing the tree trying to get all the fruit off the trees.  We ended up picking three rubbermaid bins full, and felt like kids again, climbing a tree!  The home owner even asked if we wanted a spot light set up so we could see all the pears that we missed.  The pickers that joined me were going to be making pear cider with their share, as they had just taken a cider making course with Shovel & Fork.   I was just going to eat all mine, and take a few over to my neighbour as he makes an amazing Pear and Parmesan pizza.  I asked the home owner if she wanted some of her amazing fruit.  Her response, which still sticks with me today, was “You know what, that’s okay,  you take them.  If I want pears I will go to the farmers market and pick some up”.

I personally think that her pears were tastier then any pears at the farmers market, they were just a little bit smaller.  It’s funny how our perceptions of food change when we are surrounded by it.  Maybe in this case the fruit is better on the other side of the fence… no matter which side of the fence you sit on.

 By Mike Johnson

Things to do with Rhubarb!

RhubarbSpring was off to a good start then that long rainstorm sort of delayed things our gardens, but with all that moisture plants will be getting growing now that it’s warming up a bit.

Rhubarb is the first fruit ready in Edmonton usually, so here are some things to do with rhubarb.

How to pick it:

  • Cut the stalk off with a knife close to the base. The larger stalks will be the toughest, so will need longer cooking and might not be as flavourful as medium to smaller stalks.
  • Trim the leafs off, they are toxic to eat.
  • Next, you can either peel the outer husk off or leave it.
  • Cut into chunks for recipes and storing some away in the freezer for the cooler months of the year.

A recipe to inspire you:

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Honey Rhubarb Cobbler (Canadian Living) . Doesn’t it look delicious?



Community event: OFRE talk on how to reduce apple maggot, May 31, Fulton Place

OFRE will be at a community event!

Apple maggot is a growing nuisance for apple tree owners in Edmonton. Sarah McPike, OFRE board member and entomologist, will be sharing information and tips for controlling apple maggot at the following event!

When: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Time: 9 a.m. –noonphoto-apple maggot fly
Where: 6115 Fulton Road

For further info about this event: www.fultonplace.org/activities-events

If you would like Sarah to attend your community event to do a 15 minute presentation about apple maggot, email:  applemaggotsquad@operationfruitrescue.org and provide details of what you’re looking for.


Introducting 2014 OFRE Board of Directors

As of April 7, 2014, OFRE is pleased to announce the welcome of five (5) new individuals to the Board of Directors:

  • Joshua Buck
  • Megan Ciurysek
  • Alex Mather
  • Geoff Salomons
  • Kim Schaeble

At the meeting of the Board, a restructuring of the individuals holding positions with in the Executive took place. Stepping down effective immediately Amy Beaith-Johnson as President, Jordan Wilson as Vice President, Mike Johnson as Treasurer, and Melisa Zapisocky as Secretary, as well as Board Members Janet Hazen and David Kahane. Of the seven (7) returning Board Members two (2) were elected to the Executive.

The Executive positions were filled as follows:

  • President – Mike Johnson
  • Vice-President – Joshua Buck
  • Treasurer – Gillian Turney
  • Secretary – Geoff Salomons

Returning Board Members: Amy Beaith-Johnson, Sarah McPike, Bonnie Patterson, Amy Wilson, and Jordan Wilson

We hope you will join us in welcoming OFRE’s 2014 Board of Directors! With great enthusiasm for the vision of OFRE, and fresh new skill sets brought on board, we expect a banner year in the ongoing rescue of Edmonton’s home grown fruit.

Save the Date!! OFRE AGM – March 30th

Attention Edmonton Fruithusiasts, warmer weather is really on its way…help us begin the new season!

IMG_1362IMG_3080Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton will be having it’s 2nd Annual AGM on Sunday March 30th!!

Where: Kasian Architecture (Suite 251-10150 Jasper Ave NW)

When: 2pm – 4pm

Light snacks and refreshments to be served!

All members who have purchased their 2014 membership are eligible to vote on and run in the board election (Memberships will be available at the AGM then online afterwards). Come out to meet the people who run our organization, hear what the plans are for 2014, have a bite to eat and make your voice heard in electing our new board.

Permaculture Harvest Fest – Saturday, November 2, 2013

Friends of OFRE are organizing this great event:

The Edmonton Permaculture Guild & The River City Permablitz Network is hosting a Harvest Fest at Ritchie Hall, 7727-98 St, on November 2, 2013, starting at 3 pm. This will be a celebration of our growing community and all of the fantastic work that is being done around food security, building resilient communities and growing awareness around Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Continue reading

Riverdale AppleFest BBQ, September 21st, 1-4pm

Wondering what to do on a nice Saturday afternoon in September? Come on down to the Riverdale Community LEague celebration, AppleFest BBQ. OFRE has been invited to attend and make cider. Come join us for cider, good food, and fun! Community league memberships are on sale at the event.

Devonian Fruit Festival, September 15

OFRE will be at the Devonian Gardens today for the annual Fruit Growers Festival! We are making fresh cider all day! Everyone is welcome! Event runs 11am-4pm. Hope to see you there!

Amy Beaith will be giving a talk on preserving prairie fruits at 2pm during the event.

Looks like it will be a beautiful day to check out the garden! Last nice Sunday of the season!


Apple ladder…. Drool….

Apple ladder.... Drool....

On a pick Friday, those of us with roots out east talked about the apple ladders we’d known. Anyone know how to procure or make ’em for Edmonton? They sure make the job easier….

Contact David through info@operationfruitrescue.org if you have a lead….