What’s It Like To Lead Picks? Ann Rosenfield Shares Her Experience

You know that Not Far From the Tree relies on volunteers to pick and share Toronto’s fruit. But among the more than a thousand registered volunteers are an elite squad who have stepped up to go above and beyond just picking fruit: these are our Pick Leaders or “Supreme Gleaners”. They bring the equipment, teach about fruit picking and ladder safety, liaise with tree owners, deliver fruit donations, and ride our big fancy cargo bikes. After the pick they report on how it went, including how much fruit was picked and donated. Not Far From the Tree literally could not do what we do without them, so we decided to show them some love by sharing with you how awesome they are!

Our first featured pick leader is Ann Rosenfield. We’ll let her tell the rest!

What got you interested in volunteering with Not Far From the Tree?
I was working with a charity that works with homeless adults and I knew that homeless people can go years without eating fresh fruit. Not Far From the Tree was a way to help make a change for our most vulnerable neighbours.

When you’re not picking, what do you do?
I’m the Executive Director for a small charity. I’m a bike commuter, local arts lover, and enthusiastic fruit lover.

How would you describe your role & responsibilities?
I help make sure everything is in place for a successful and pleasant fruit pick for the volunteers, home owner, and charity.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done for fruit?
Borrowing 5 ladders to get the entire pick into this incredibly tall serviceberry tree.

Tell us about some memorable moments you’ve had on picks past.
Often at the end of the pick, there is this funny moment when the home owner is profusely thanking the pickers while we’re enthusiastically thanking the owner. Many owners have been so happy, they seem to feel the need to share some of the bounty of their garden – I’ve gotten some lovely mint and delicious tomatoes.

Tell us about something awesome you’ve done with Not Far From the Tree fruit.
Last year I did 2 picks with atypical fruit – crabapples and ginkgo. In both cases the homeowner had never eaten the fruit from their own tree. I prepared the fruit and then dropped off a generous sample the next day of what I had made so that the home owner could actually taste a product of their delicious fruit.

What have you learned in your role that you don’t think you’d have learned anywhere else?
I have learned so much about different ways to prepare and use fruit other than just same old jam, crumble, or pie.

If you could put together a picking team made up of anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you pick?
A member of the Flying Wallendas for expert tree climbing, Julia Child for great recipe ideas,  someone from a charity partner who benefits from our fruit, and a local farmer to teach about fruit trees.

How do you feel about riding the bike:
I feel like I am driving some huge behemoth – it’s like driving my grandmother’s 1973 Cadillac (not in a good way).

What’s one thing you think everyone should know about Not Far From the Tree?
There is this moment when you are up in a tree that is not like anything else – you look up and see this beautiful crystal blue sky, vivid green leaves, and bright fruit and you are surrounded by great volunteers. It is the most amazing experience – the smell of the fruit, the lovely colours, the sound of the rustling leaves. It’s amazing.

There is this moment when you are up in a tree that is not like anything else – you look up and see this beautiful crystal blue sky, vivid green leaves, and bright fruit and you are surrounded by great volunteers. It is the most amazing experience – the smell of the fruit, the lovely colours, the sound of the rustling leaves. It’s amazing.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a Supreme Gleaner?
You will get to meet a lot of really great, solid people. Even when things go off, the people are great.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not Far From the Tree volunteers are consistently great, hardworking and interesting people. Quirky, yes, but definitely interesting.

Further Reading

Thank You GARDENA Canada!

August Fruit Ripening Tips