Changes to the 2024 Fruit Picking Program

Toronto’s fruit trees serve as vital sources of fresh produce, foster community connections, and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment. As we reap the benefits of these urban orchards lining city streets and backyards, it’s crucial to continually adapt and improve our systems to meet the growing needs of our communities.

Over the past three years, we have heard clearly that our picking program structure needs to be updated to better reflect the changes in the world. Demand for NFFTT’s services has increased past what it was originally designed to deliver on. In order to build the systems and structures that we need to meet the demand, including an updated approach to how we generate resources, we will be running a smaller program this year. This choice does not come out of nowhere. It comes from months of gathering feedback, reflecting on our successes and areas of improvement, and really looking at what is working well in our operations and logistics and where we can do better. Doing this now will help ensure we can meet the demand for years to come. 

Here is an overview of how your experience will change:

  1. We have new hours! The fruit picking program will be in operation Wednesday to Friday from 12-7pm and Saturday from 10am-5pm. We are making this shift because agency partners are generally not able to receive fruit donations in the evenings or on the weekends. We currently do not have adequate storage to house fruit picked in the evening. In addition, having volunteers in the field without staff on duty increases the potential for risk, and we are not currently in a financial position to hire staff to be on the clock Sunday-Monday, 9am-9pm. 
  1. This is the last year we will be using the Fruit Picking Portal. We are planning to introduce a new system to schedule, claim and register for fruit picks in 2025. Please continue to use the Portal this year as the data is used to inform decision making and data reporting.
  1. We no longer pick crabapples, ginkgo and black walnuts as agencies do not have the capacity to process this fruit. 
  1. Mulberries will not be donated to agencies and the harvest will be split in half between volunteers and Tree Registrants. 
  1. Program staff will scout trees before they are released on the Portal to ensure some level of quality control so that your time is well spent. 
  1. Anyone over the age of 16 is allowed to participate in the fruit picking program by signing up for a membership. Anyone under the age of 16 is not allowed to attend a pick even if they are supervised. We welcome them once they have turned 16.

Thank you for taking the time to read what’s new this year at NFFTT. We look forward to another fruitful season with you!

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