‘Spokes’ Person: Julian’s Commitment to Cycling for the Climate

Julian Sleath has been an exceptional pick leader with Not Far From The Tree for so many years now – we can’t seem to track down the actual date he started! What we do know for certain is that Julian is a passionate leader and an avid cyclist. Let’s learn a bit more:

As many of us city cyclists have also experienced, Julian has run into his fair share of tricky situations. He says he “even had to push on foot – a fully laden NFFTT cargo bike up the Davenport to St. Clair hill!” However this experience and many alike have not deterred him. Even long-distance biking is no daunting task to Julian: “I have been way to the north (Eglinton) and east (Victoria Park) of the picking boundary.”

Photo from Julian’s apple pick in 2020 – what a haul!

We heard through the grapevine that Julian rides to each and every pick, rain or shine. So it only seemed fitting that we ask Julian to be featured as our ‘Spokes-Person’ in order to highlight the climate resiliency of our program, specifically through the use of our bike fleet! He gladly accepted the challenge of tracking his planetary contribution, and you might be surprised by what we uncovered:

Over the 2021 cherry/berry season, Julian…

Led 8 fruit picks, including sweet and sour cherries, serviceberries, and a red currant bush!

Travelled a total of 91.2 kilometres by bike! His mileage was tracked pre-pick from each Equipment set location where our fleet of the cargo bikes are stored, to the Tree Registrants home where the pick takes place, then on to the partner agency to drop off their share of the harvested fruit and back to the equipment set storage location. Julian says “the biking adds up – particularly if I add in the journey from my home to the NFFTT bike!”

Got 6+ hours of exercise! Not to mention, 1/2 of the trips he completed would have been with a cargo bike fully loaded with fruit. Everyday is leg day!

Julian’s Longest Ride: 15.4 kilometres

Average Distance Per Pick: 11.8 km

Commuting for the Climate

In one month of cycling to and from picks, Julian’s hard work has offset 0.02 metric tonnes of carbon emissions (or 20 kg)! In one fruit picking season (roughly five months), Julian could be looking at about 0.1 metric tonnes (100 kg) of emissions saved by cycling instead of driving!* That’s the equivalent carbon capture of planting 5 new trees!

If each of our 62 Pick Leaders committed to their minimum 3 picks over the entire 5-month season, and travelled an average distance of 11.8 km round-trip by cargo bike, that equates to 10,974 km of people-powered transportation! That’s like driving from Montreal to Vancouver, and back. Over the harvest season, our Pick Leaders’ efforts will prevent over 2.24 metric tonnes (2,240 kg) of CO2 from entering our atmosphere, through the simple act of cycling.

*Assuming an average fuel efficiency of 9.3L/100km

Cutting our Carbon Footprint through Active Transportation

It has been said that swapping the car for walking and cycling even just one day a week can make a significant impact on personal carbon emissions in cities. In order for us to meet global GHG emissions reduction targets, more and more people must move away from motorized transport and fully embrace the cycling way of life. At Not Far From The Tree, we believe that picking and sharing the urban harvest via bicycle is what makes ours a truly climate-resilient program.

We encourage all of our Pick Leaders to access one of our 11 cargo bikes, located throughout the city, to complete their fruit pick. While heavy, our fleet of two- and three-wheel cargo bikes are very comfortable to ride and can carry A LOT in the front box (including all of our picking equipment and harvested fruit!). We also invite any fruit pick volunteers to arrive on their own bicycles, if they have the option.

One of Not Far From The Tree’s three-wheeler cargo bikes.

Building Community by Bike

Torontonians love to bike because it’s convenient, healthy, inexpensive, and fun. Did you know that nearly one million cyclists rode the Bloor bike lanes between Avenue Rd. and Shaw St. between 2018-19? This ridership makes the 2.4km stretch of bike lanes on Bloor St. the “second busiest cycling route on the continent” (x). For more information on riding bikes safely in the city, check out CycleTO’s free Cycling Handbook.

We’re in support of cycling advocacy groups across the city and this year, we are promoting and fostering relationships with some really amazing organizations including: Charlie’s FreeWheels, The Neighbourhood Organization’s Gateway Bike Hub, The Women’s Cycling Network of Toronto, Toronto Bike Brigade, The Biking Lawyer, Bells on Bloor, CycleTO, and CultureLink Settlement Services Bike Host program. Check out their amazing programs and initiatives, also fuelled by bikes!

Further Reading

Picks & Preserves: Making Fruit Magic with Kat Sylvester

‘Spokes’ Person: Julian’s Commitment to Cycling for the Climate