Not far from the treeNot Far From the Tree (NFFT), an organization founded in 2008, has the unique mission of ensuring Toronto’s fruit doesn’t go to waste. Here’s how it works: if homeowners feel overrun by an abundant fruit harvest, they call NFFT who quickly mobilize their volunteers to get picking. The harvest is split three-ways, one-third to the tree owner, one-third to the volunteers, and the last portion donated to food banks, shelters and community kitchens.

The award-winning organization, today a project of Tides Canada, is making an indelible impact, building community, addressing poverty issues and tackling the food crisis head-on. In 2011 alone they doubled their reach from seven to 14 neighbourhoods, picked more than six thousand pounds of fruit and boasted a committed crew of over 950 volunteers.

Volunteer pickers

In this interview, Elisa Birnbaum sat down with Not Far From the Tree founder and director, Laura Reinsborough, at her office in the CSI Annex to discuss what inspired her to start saving fruit, the confluence of events that helped NFFT grow so quickly, how the organization is addressing food security in its own way and where she sees it going next. Take a listen.

Elisa Birnbaum

Elisa Birnbaum is the co-founder of SEE Change Magazine, and works as a freelance journalist, producer and communications consultant. She is also the president of Elle Communications.

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