The fruit produced by a Sudbury family's three apple trees have become the first food harvested by local group Fruit for All.

Sudburians who have surplus fruit, berries, or other food growing on their property can reach out to Fruit for All, who will send volunteers to harvest the food. Part of the freshly-plucked bounty is then shared with local organizations that run food programs for less fortunate individuals.

That waste-not-want-not premise appealed to the Abols family, who live in Sudbury's south end.

“There are more apples that come off the trees than me and my family can use,” Kerry Abols said.

"They turn to mush and become pretty gross, so if there’s a group that’s willing to come and pick them … and somebody else can use them, that’s great.”

'We’re trying to get volunteers and trees together at the same time'- Carrie Regenstreif, founder of Fruit for All

Abols found out about Fruit for All through his wife, who has been involved with local food initiatives in the past.

Now a couple of volunteers have brought a ladder and a long fruit-picking tool, and are plucking the apples while they’re still in their prime.

Fruit for All founder Carrie Regenstreif had been a long-time member of Eat Local Sudbury when she decided to start her own local food initiative.

Regenstreif said people in the city have been very responsive to the premise of the organization.

“Considering we haven’t done a huge amount of promotion, it’s surprising how many trees we’ve signed up,” she said.

“For this year, we have as many as we can handle, because we’re all volunteers and it’s our first year.”

Kerry Abols

Kerry Abols and his son collect some apples that have already fallen off one of their three backyard trees. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

The apples picked in the Abols’ backyard will be donated to the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre, where they run cooking programs. Regenstreif said she’s also had interest from local food banks and the Access AIDS Network in the city.

Looking for harvest helpers

In future years, Regenstreif said they hope to collect other fruits, such as grapes.

But first, they need more volunteers.

“We’ve got a lot of people signed up to volunteer, but we haven’t been able to get a hold of them yet because of summer,” she said. “So we’re trying to get volunteers and trees together at the same time.”

For today, though, Regenstreif and the Abols family were able to pick a decent harvest.

The trees in the Abols’ yard are at least 15 years old, and they bear a lot of fruit. Those three trees are part of the “urban” food system that Abols said is often under appreciated.

“People will eat blueberries and raspberries and strawberries, but the apples that are growing on this tree are not the big, juicy, perfect ones you might see in the grocery store,” he said.

“People are turned off by the odd blemish or fruits that aren’t as sweet. So people overlook what we have in the city for sure."