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.
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.