Tag Archives: edmonton

OFRE AGM is coming up! Join us on April 16, 2016

Annual General Meeting and Potluck!

Sign up to become a member today, and become a part of OFRE.
We hope that you will join us as we continue our adventure in 2016.
Join us at our AGM, and bring a dish to share:       

April 16th, 2016 

4:00pm – 7:00pm

McCauley School, 9538 107 Ave Edmonton

What does 2016 hold for OFRE?

As we come out of hibernation we are gearing up for 2016 and have some
amazing ideas for events that will build on our momentum from last
year and we need your help to make it happen! 

To make our organization resilient to and sustainable over the long term we are
seeking volunteers to help our board members implement their ideas.
We are also seeking additional board members to guide the organization
into the future.  Come join us at our AGM and find the hidden fruit in our city!

Guest post from our Vice President: Joshua Buck

Hello Readers,

As you may be aware Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton will be holding their AGM on March 29 at 1pm at the former McCauley School on 107a Ave. We are looking for several new board members. As the current Vice President of Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton I would like to take a moment to share with you reasons why joining our board may just be the perfect thing for you to do!

Let me start by saying that as a young professional who has only been living in Edmonton for two years, joining the OFRE board was a great way for me to meet people who wanted to have fun but at the same time make our home a better place to live. I have met some truly amazing people throughout the year at various events that OFRE has attended and held. Edmonton has a vibrant community of enthusiastic people who are working hard to bring food security and self-resilience to the forefront of local conversations!

OFRE attends and holds a number of events each year, such as cider pressings, workshops at the Edmonton Resilience Festival, demonstrations at the Fruit Growers Festival at the beautiful Devonian Botanical Gardens, and farm gleans collecting lots of tasty and fresh fruits and veggies. All of these events are a great way to spend an afternoon, get some fresh air and enjoy the company of friendly people.

Aside from meeting people and having fun, joining the board of Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton will give you a chance to hone your skills as an event planner, communicator, organizer, community planner, and more! Plus you will get to learn about tree and shrub maintenance and how to make the most of your green thumb in our Northern climate.

For me joining the Board of Directors with OFRE started as a way to meet people and give back, now it has grown into being a part of a community! Oh, and I have so much apple cider to drink year round, what a tasty bonus!

An introduction to cider making!

 IMG_1432As fall quickly approaches, heralded in by an early September snow fall, you may notice that the apple trees around the city are heavy with fruit. If you are familiar with OFRE’s mission and take part in it, you know there is more fruit available than you could possibly use. Even walking my dog around my neighbourhood in North Glenora I have seen at least a dozen trees still full.

While big juicy apples are perfect for eating or baking, many of the apples trees around Edmonton are crab apple trees. Crab apples are too sour to eat and too small to make pies with, but they are perfect for one thing, and that’s cider! Crisp tart cider, tossed it in the crock pot with some spices and you have one of my favourite winter drinks, mulled cider

If you ever thought making cider was hard, you’re wrong; it’s simple, fun and inexpensive.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a mix of different varieties of apples
  • an apple crusher
  • a press

The key to a good cider is the choice of apples. While any apple can make a good cider, a good mix of a variety is key. I prefer ciders heavy on the crap apples because I like a tart cider. I’ve made a cider with only sweeter apples and I found it flat and too sweet for my palate. Try making your own blends until you find what tastes best to you.

Next you’ll need a lot of apples, for every 15-20 kg of apples you can expect 10L of cider. If you consider that an average tree can have well over 100 kg, that’s not a lot of work.

To transform your apples into a delicious cider you’ll need an apple crusher and a press. You can either rent this equipment or make it yourself. There are several blogs that provide instructions on creating different DIY models. I prefer renting the equipment as I find you get more juice (and it’s a whole lot easier). While I’m sure there may be other places you can pick up the equipment, I usually head over Estate Brewing (http://www.estatebrewing.ca/Home.page) where owner Kevin Hogg has a few sets of crushers and barrel presses and will be happy to show you the ins and outs.

The actual crushing and pressing is pretty easy. The Cider Workshop (http://www.ciderworkshop.com/howtomake.html) is an excellent resource and can give you advice on how to press cider. Likewise there are numerous other blogs which give good advice.

Once you’re done pressing and before you call it a day, you will need to get rid of the pressed apples (called pumice) and store your cider. The pumice can be left out in clear garbage bags and it will be composted at the Edmonton Waste Management Facility. As for the cider, it will last a week in the fridge before it starts to ferment. If you want it keep it longer, you can simply freeze it or preserve it through canning. (http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/sites/default/files/images/sp50455.pdf)

Cider pressing is easy and it gives you a healthy, locally sourced drink that you can enjoy throughout the winter.

Press Release – The Golden Shovel!

OFRE’s 5th year celebration – From modest beginnings to a strong future:  Micro-Orchard takes root in McCauley

Your cordially invited to the official planting of the Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton micro-orchard, September 13th, 2014, at the McCauley School grounds, 95th Street & 107A Avenue.

As part of the days festivities, Edmonton City Councillor, Scott McKeen, Megan Rogers from Forestry operations, Jane Molstad from community revitalization, and Mike Johnson, OFRE President will make announcements and take part in the golden shovel ceremony. The event will start at 9am with the planting of the first tree at 10am.

Other attending organizations include: Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (EBC), and Edmonton Permaculture Guild. There will be live music, it’s open to the public and people of all ages are welcome to attend. OFRE volunteers will be pressing cider with the pedal powered apple crusher, which is always fun to see in action!

This orchard is unique to Edmonton, the region, and Canada as it’s one of the first ever urban orchards on public land. It will be a place for Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton to teach, learn and grow. For Edmontonians, it will be a place, to develop a passion for local food, to harness long lost food preservation skills, and to contribute to a stronger, more food secure city.

The micro-Orchard will include plantings to showcase the types and varieties of fruit trees, shrubs, and bushes grown in the Edmonton Capital region. Fruit varieties to be planted include: apples, pears, cherries, saskatoons, raspberries, and more! 

No experience necessary, just bring your enthusiasm and a shovel. The event is open to the public and is FREE to attend!

Pick of the week – OFRE’s micro orchard!

Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE – pronounced “offer’) is celebrating its 5th year as an organization. From its humble beginnings in 2009, OFRE has become a widely respected organization within the city and throughout Canada. In celebration of 5 years of rescuing fruit OFRE is creating a micro Orchard in Edmonton!

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(Click here for full size image)

With grant funding from the City of Edmonton, OFRE’s proposal for transforming a section of the McCauley School grounds is reaching fruition. Since 2012, OFRE has been planning and organizing this ground-breaking project in Edmonton. The area specifically located on 107A Avenue between 95th and 96th Street is to be transformed into a micro Orchard – a fruit bearing oasis!

The micro Orchard will include plantings to showcase the types and varieties of fruit trees, shrubs, and bushes that can grow in the Edmonton Capital region. Fruit varieties to be planted include: apples, pears, cherries, Saskatoons, raspberries and more!

As a green addition to McCauley, the micro Orchard will be used by OFRE to host educational workshops. People will be able to learn how to press apple cider, and care for their fruit bearing trees and bushes. We intend to educating the citizens of Edmonton, through the installation of the micro Orchard, and will empower people with the skills needed to grow, harvest, and preserve locally grown fruit in their own backyards.

OFRE’s micro Orchard is scheduled to break ground September 6th, 2014, with the help of Edmonton Permaculture Guild. It will take several weeks to complete with countless volunteer hours.

WHEN? September 6th & 7th

  • Ground breaking,
  • Dig pathways and level
  • Removal of sod
  • Install mulch pathways

              September 13th

  • Plant trees & shrubs
  • Install ground cover
  • Build shed
  • Install 1000 litre totes on site
  • Press and make cider (go on an OFRE pick and bring your own apples!)

Please sign up (see links below) to be a part of this amazing event. Involvement is greatly encouraged, and will be immensely appreciated!

The 5th year anniversary of Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton is a wonderful time to find the fruit hidden in our city!

Pick of the week – Looking back

IMG_1439When I look back to 2009 when I was at a friends for a potluck event and the idea was suggested of starting a fruit rescue volunteer group, which eventually grew into OFRE, I feel grateful to have been part of it all since the beginning.

OFRE has led me to so many places, many of them I never foresaw in my future such as a fruit pick volunteer, fruit captain, executive director, president of OFRE board, representative for Slow Food Canada at Terra Madre, canning instructor with Metro education and City of Edmonton Arts, presenter at PKN13, and Avenue Magazine’s top 40 under 40! All of these and more I can credit to my involvement with Operation Fruit Rescue over the years. Sometimes when you say yes to something and jump in, you never know where it might take you, I guess!

Terra Madre 2012

Canning class

Canning class

Show What You Grow

Show What You Grow

In the beginning, I was excited at the prospects of getting access to locally grown raspberries and apples. I was living in an apartment at the time, so growing my own food was still beyond reach for me. I had no idea what kinds of fruit people would be calling to ask us to rescue such as plums, pears, and even apricots! The first year taking phone calls and answering emails for OFRE I thought for sure, some homeowners were pulling my leg when they would tell me they had plums and pears to share.

This is my 5th year being involved in OFRE and I still find incredible joy in climbing trees to get fresh fruit right from the tree, slashing down giant rhubarb bushes, telling new volunteers about OFRE and fruits they will find, and making delicious preserves to enjoy well after the season is over. Now, being a mother to a beautiful little girl, I can’t wait to take her on some summer fruit picks over the next couple of years to show her how to pick apples right off the tree and give her a taste of a berry or two!





Pick of the week – What do you mean by ‘rescue’ fruit?

In the last few weeks as I make my rounds in Edmonton I have been queried as to what it means to ‘rescue’ fruit. Rescue in this context isn’t the rescue of Jimmy because he’s fallen down the well and Lassie tells someone they need to bring a ladder! As miraculous a dog as Lassie was other than the use of a ladder there is very little similarity!



There is no danger or distress…not really…yet fruit is still rescued nontheless!

The true story

The true story

To the average inhabitant of Edmonton and area the individual awareness of fruit bearing trees and bushes is likely limited. You travel your routes to and from your regular destinations giving only passing attention to what may be visible in the front yards of the homes along the way. Those with these fruit bearing trees and bushes may have a different awareness: they’re a nuisance or they’re a fabulous homegrown resource!

Wherever your personal awareness of the abundance of fruit bearing trees and shrubs falls the fact is Edmonton has a fabulous growing season for many of the usual suspects: apples, rhubarb, crabapples, sour cherries, and saskatoons. If you know what to look for there are also nanking cherries, pin cherries, highbush cranberries, and seabuckthorn berries, for instance.

Highbush cranberry

Highbush cranberry

Late fall apples

Late fall apples

Mini yellow flesh crabapples

mini yellow flesh crabapples

Fruit trees look fabulous when in bloom, they can produce beautiful fruit, keeping the garden colour scheme going into fall. Once fall arrives the fruit begins to fall and its time to clean up the mess. Where the rescue of fruit comes into the mix is in the harvest (and distribution): rescue the fruit before it goes to waste!

My favourite example of fruit going to waste…an experience I will likely never forget was on a pick last year. One of the most abundant apple trees in this backyard had no edible fruit left on it! None! All of the apples had in fact begun fermenting on the tree!?! It was an intoxicating and nauseating blend. Made infinitely more surreal in smelling apple cider vinegar coming from a tree?? Mind boggling! Sarah and I either wanted some fresh hot fries or to run away with our noses plugged.



In attempting to mitigate the natural cycle of unharvested fruit going to the compost bin, rescuing fruit happens! It really does. By individuals who are willing to lend their hands, ladders, buckets and bags, etc. all to harvest as much unused fruit as possible. It is a rewarding hands-on experience! A great family outing and a learning experience for children who may never experience a farm.

The fruit rescued by Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton, fruit pick volunteers give a significant portion from each harvest directly to any one of the many local organizations who feed those in need. How awesome is that?!? Fruit that has a great chance of going to waste gets delivered into the hands and mouths of those in need.

Consider this: how much more enjoyable would eating fruit grown in your collective backyard be…and an easement on your grocery budget…if you helped rescue fruit too?? I can tell you…its delicious…absolutely delicious!


Kim Schaeble


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?