Meet Our Summer 2022 Team

Joining NFFTT this summer are Julia, Rachel, Claudia, Molly, Lucy, Areeg, Frida, and Zoë who will work hard to help us put fruit to good use, engage as many people as possible in the harvest, become stewards of our Urban Orchard, and reconnect people to where their food comes from! Keep reading to learn all about our new team members and what they’re most excited about this season.

Reintroducing Julia Girmenia – Project Director

Julia is beyond excited for this upcoming season at Not Far From The Tree! She had a great experience last year meeting and learning from everyone involved with NFFTT and pick as much fruit as possible to increase access to fresh fruit.

Over the past ten years, she has worked with organizations across Canada to create and deliver programming for children, youth, adults and seniors in the arts and city building sector with a focus on education, mentorship and community development. Before joining Not Far From The Tree she worked at Evergreen on their national and local programs, UforChange’s youth art education program, and even associate directed a play with Emancipation Arts a few years back. She enjoys getting creative and coming up with solutions, thinking outside of the box, and delivering lasting impact while working alongside communities on the front line.  

Meet Rachel Lissner – Program Manager

Rachel is thrilled to be joining Not Far From The Tree as the Program Manager. One of her earliest memories of falling in love with Toronto was exploring the apple orchards at Spadina Manor on a group walk with NFFTT back in 2008, the first year of the organization! Since then she has worked, volunteered, and organized in the world of Toronto city building with organizations such as Jane’s Walk, Cycle Toronto, the Centre for City Ecology, Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), and many more. Rachel is excited to share her passions for community building, sparking connections, the environment, and sharing good food with good people in her new role. 

Reintroducing Molly Lalonde – Program Coordinator

After a fun-filled first summer at NFFTT, Molly is back for another season! Molly is passionate about local food systems and their impact on community, health, and the environment. She is currently a student of Landscape Architecture at U of T and is interested in designing spaces for urban food production and community gathering. In her spare time she loves to make ceramics, explore the outdoors, and garden. She’s excited to reconnect with NFFTT’s volunteers this summer and continue to learn from them! 

Meet Claudia Vergara – Program Coordinator

Claudia is a recent graduate from the Master of Environmental Studies Program at York University. Claudia believes in building healthy, safe, and sustainable communities through care and connection – to each other, to our food systems, and to the land we inhabit. She has experience growing and finding wild foods in rural Ontario, the Amazon Rainforest, and in her family’s home country of Chile. Claudia is excited to engage deeper with the community and help connect people with the food that is abundantly growing on fruit trees here in Toronto!

Reintroducing Lucy Yazar- Program Coordinator

Lucy is a Community Worker program graduate who completed her field placement with NFFTT, and she can’t get enough learning from the team. She is interested in empowering communities, especially people experiencing Food insecurity in Toronto disproportionately, as well as environmental issues. She will be busy supporting the team in the evenings and weekends!

Re-introducing Areeg El-Sayed- Communications Officer

Areeg is looking forward to an adventurous and exciting season with NFFTT! After a busy fall preparing for this upcoming season, she looks forward to seeing the fruit of the team’s labour in full force. Areeg loves all thing art, design, and Toronto! She has a few murals across the city, so perhaps you will see them before you see her! She will be interacting with all the folks that reach out via social media- so she hopes that you say hello and share your beautiful pictures from the picks you attend!

Meet Frida Kitz- Fruit Research Team

Frida is a non-profit professional interested in urban green spaces and agriculture. This summer, she will be conducting a health assessment of NFFTT’s trees, as well as research into the cultural history of Toronto’s urban orchard. She hopes to learn more about fruit tree management and how to get more locals involved!

Meet Zoë Turner-Debs- Fruit Research Team

Zoe is currently a student in the Master of Forest Conservation program at the University of Toronto, after completing their undergraduate degree in Earth Science and Geography at Vassar College in New York State. They care about environmental engagement and equity, the politics of food and food access, and just responses to climate change and exploitation.

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