Celebrating the Winners of our 2021 Photo Contest

At the start of August we announced a new creative opportunity for our fruit picking community. This was a chance for us to shine a spotlight on the talents of our members, including pick leaders, volunteers, and tree registrants. We launched our very first Photo Contest!

Members could submit up to 5 of their own photos, captured over the course of the 2021 picking season, to be entered to win a special NFFTT prize pack!

Photos submissions could include: pickers climbing the tree, close-up of fruit, a great team pic, action shots, sun streaming through the leaves, pick leader riding the cargo bike, dropping off fruit to a service agency, or whatever other beauty caught the eye of the camera-holder!

Our very own Picking Program Assistant, Molly, contributed to the prize pack with a beautiful hand-crafted ceramic mug from her latest collection. You can check out more of her work at MagooPottery on Etsy and Instagram.

Until August 31st, members could submit their #pickpics by emailing their photographs to our Communications Assistant, Maddy, who would judge the photos and declare the winners. Over the month of August, we received so many amazing submissions…it was very difficult to choose just one winner!

First Place

Photo by Alysha Arseneau. Volunteers Eti (left) and Jaynelle (right) pictured.

Congratulations, Alysha! Would you mind sharing a brief story about this pick in particular?

This pick was so easy! Everyone there was pretty experienced, so we all just got straight to it. We discovered how lovely the spot was totally by accident. Someone just happened to block the light sensor while they were picking and suddenly we were picking grapes under this dreamy twinkling pergola. We paused to snap a couple of pics and then it was back to business harvesting.

What sparked your interest in volunteering with NFFTT? 

Food has always played a central role in my life. My background is in kitchens and bakeries and now I am an urban farmer. I grow anywhere I can find space in the city, from a legit farm plot at Flemo Farms to backyards, balconies and rooftops. It’s so important that people have access to quality food, to eat things that are actually good for them and that are culturally relevant. To know that there are untapped food sources in the city just makes me crazy. It’s so wonderful that folks want to participate in this program and offer up their trees/vines for harvest, they take what they need and share the rest. Volunteering with NFFTT is a really concrete way to make a difference. It’s measurable. It’s amazing that a few hours out of my day can actually get great fruit to those who need it!

Alysha and her harvest from Flemo Farms!

How does picking fresh fruit in the city make you feel? 

Harvesting is always super calming for me. I have a pretty intense schedule, so when I’m picking it’s my meditation time. I can turn my brain off and kind of recenter myself.

Any other special memories you have from your time with NFFTT? 

I am still pretty new to NFFTT. I have met lots of lovely people. I will for sure continue to make time for picks next year!

Where can we find you on social media?

@roguefarms on Instagram, and here for the Rogue Farms website.

1st Runner-Up

Photo by Sarah Brodbar-Nemzer.

Sarah is a tree registrant with NFFTT. Our team absolutely loved this photo taken from above. The vantage point of was so unique – it gave us goosebumps. Look at that lush canopy! We just can’t get enough of Toronto backyards…who knew that there could be so much fruit right under our noses, ripe for the picking!

Behind the Scenes: For this pick in particular, volunteers harvested the fruit from a crabapple and a pear tree in Sarah’s backyard in the Bloor West area. They were successful in picking 44.6 lbs of pears and a whopping 142.5 lbs of crabapples! Pick Leader Emily coordinated the donation of 92 lbs of fruit to the Toronto Community Hostel, located near Bloor and Spadina.

After this pick, our team went back to harvest Sarah’s apple tree again! They were able to pick an additional 105 lbs of apples, with 35 lbs of fruit donated to the Fort York Food Bank.

Thank you, Sarah, for registering your trees with us! This summer, your backyard became a hotbed for community connection and food sharing. We hope to see you again next year!

2nd Runner-Up

Photo by Allison Chan.

Congratulations, Allison! I love this cherry photo, especially the vintage, nostalgic quality. It really captures that feeling of hot summer nights we have come to (lovingly) associate with cherry season in Toronto. Would you mind sharing a brief story about this pick in particular?

Sure – if I recall correctly this was my second cherry pick! I spent most of this pick on the roof of the tree owner’s shed. There were a ton of cherries and it’s not every day you get access to the top of the tree where there’s usually a lot of really nice fruit! So of course I tried to pick as many as I could. It was one of the few days this summer that wasn’t criminally humid, and I remember pausing for a moment to take in the weather and the view from above and thought, “this is really nice.” As the pandemic continues it’s been more important than ever to appreciate the good times and the little things; this is my first season with NFFTT and I’ve absolutely loved the experience.

It’s funny – this photo was kind of an accident. I intended on snapping this pick pic (heh) without the flash but I forgot to turn it off! Regardless, I’m still happy with how it turned out and I’ve been bringing a film camera with me to all my picks to help me remember how fun it’s been despite all the ups and downs of the past two years.

What sparked your interest in volunteering with NFFTT? 

Honestly, I can’t remember exactly. It definitely had to do with a desire to go fruit picking but not having the ability to drive, or unlimited access to a car. I also remember NFFTT being listed as a volunteer opportunity in a BlogTO article and catching my interest. I just can’t remember which came first! After reading that a share of the fruit goes to charitable partners and that the initiative helps divert food waste, I was sold (I kind of already was before that, but this helped too).

How does picking fresh fruit in the city make you feel? 

I really like working with my hands, and my day job has me doing the complete opposite – sitting in front of a computer clicking away. Learning how much fruit there is in the city has been eye-opening, and being able to pick and distribute it, while being outside, away from the screen and meeting other people has felt incredibly fulfilling. (Also tasty – I’ve never eaten this much fruit and jam in one season, I swear)

Any other special memories you have from your time with NFFTT? 

I was lucky enough to be on a pick led by Julian, who gave out jars of his (award-winning!) marmalade to all the pickers at the end of the pick. If you know, you know.

Thank you to all who submitted to our Photo Contest! We ap-peach-iate you. Until next year!

Further Reading

Communications Assistant – Call for Applications

All Are Welcome Here! Fresh Fruit, Dignity, and Respect with Unity Kitchen