Category Archives: About us, etc.

Stuff about OFRE such as posters, business stuff, meetings, etc.

Living Bridge – A Story About OFRE and the Bridge

The living bridge has a fondness in my heart. I enjoyed many snacks there, from the Haskaps to the tomatoes. I would pass it on the days I walked to work, while carefully reviewing the construction detailing on the new museum as it was being built. For me, it was a gem in the city and spoke about rebuilding, transformation, and time. Its proximity to city hall showcased the cities progressive policies on urban farming, gardening, and temporary installations. The fruits were shared by anyone who visited it, and was maintained by diligent volunteers and community citizens. The living bridge has now closed as the property owners want to repave the bridge. My hope is that the paving will improve the bicycle connection to downtown from the northeast.

OFRE and the Bridge

The closing of the bridge meant that the shrubs and plants needed to be relocated, or would be tossed away. The fruit shrubs were carefully removed from the garden by City of Edmonton (COE) employees and volunteers, and taken to various community gardens in the city, most in the McCauley area, as a way to ensure the plants were kept in the same community. A noble response to a garden that provided the community with a temporary transformation of a dilapidated bridge. Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) was the largest recipient with a total of 22 fruit bearing shrubs being relocated to the OFRE Micro-Orchard located on the north side of the Intercultural Center on 107A, between 96th and 97th street (the former site of the McCauley School). The Micro-Orchard is the largest of its kind in Canada, and could easily handle the influx of fruit bushes. There were some Gooseberries, Nanking cherries, Red Currents, Saskatoons, and Haskaps, all of mature size, as they have been growing on the bridge for a few years.

Haskap

Haskap

The quality of the fruit bushes were outstanding and the root-balls were in good condition because of the limited growing depth on the bridge. OFRE crews worked hard over a two week time period to create and execute a plan, that would encompass a 2 day work-bee to locate and plant the shrubs. Mike Johnson, the Orchard Manager, took on the task, with the help of Amber Brant of OFRE, and Marcin Makarewicz, from the Edmonton Permaculture Guild. The work could not have been done without the amazing work of the McCauley Revitalization co-ordinator, Jane Molstad.

path to Orchard

The much needed shrubs were placed strategically to define a winding path into the orchard that guides guests around the mandela. The shrubs also created a mid-level to the canopy of fruit bearing trees and cherries that were planted a few years ago, making the orchard look fuller and more complete. With the addition of plants, the orchard expands its base of fruit bearing trees and shrubs that can grown in the Edmonton Capital region, and becomes a real destination for food lovers in the city.

 

 

The living bridge may not be around, but the OFRE Micro-Orchard is a open site that anyone can visit, and pick the fruit. The orchard is the home to OFRE where the organization puts on a variety of workshops from apple maggot prevention to proper fruit tree care, and pruning. The site is also breeding ground for popular events like the gargantuan potluck held in August each year and open cider pressings held bi-weekly during apple season for citizens to learn how to make cider with their excess fruit. Check out the OFRE website for more information on dates and times. OFRE is also working closely with the Edmonton Permaculture Guild (EPG) to create a place that pushes the boundaries of typical garden design and construction, and are a great resource for people looking to install food forests and wholistic agricultural practices.

orchard

The living bridge will live on in various gardens throughout the city, and OFRE is proud and honored to be part of this history. OFRE will continue to push it’s vision of creating a community where all the fruit grown in the community is used productively. We will try to build new bridges between the orchard and the surrounding community as we create a home and a place for everyone to enjoy the fruits of Edmonton.

By Mike Johnson, OFRE Orchard Manager

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!

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 – 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.

pears

We 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

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!

FULTON PLACE GARDENER’S SWAP MEET AND SALE
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.