While Calgary may not be surrounded by orchards filled with sweet, red apples or those juicy plump cherries, there are several ways to enjoy the fruit of the season around the city in August and September. It’s even better when you know that you are using food that might otherwise go to waste, so grab your buckets and ladders, and start picking!

Community Orchards

Organizations like the City of Calgary and Enactus Calgary have been planting a number of community orchards around the city. These initiatives help beautify our space, reduce our carbon footprint, and provide nutritious food, even while in the early stages of such projects. We stumbled upon the orchard at Ralph Klein Park one summer evening a few years ago, and filled a bag with delicious crab apples that were perfect for snacking.

Community Orchard (Family Fun Calgary)

The City of Calgary Community Orchard at Ralph Klein Park

Calgary Harvest

Calgary Harvest is a project under the Permaculture Calgary Guild that aims to harvest local fruit from registered trees in the City of Calgary, and so Calgarians can enjoy a delicious and local food source. They match trees with excess fruit with harvesters, to ensure good food doesn’t go to waste. Anyone with a fruit tree can register their trees if they do not want to use all the fruit themselves and anyone who wants to harvest can sign up to find out when and where the harvests will be. When a team of harvesters heads out, the homeowner is entitled to 1/3 of the harvest, Calgary Harvest takes 1/3 to distribute (think local food organizations who could use the produce), and the other 1/3 is divided amongst the harvesters. Most of the fruit is apples and crabapples, but sometimes you’ll get pears, plums, and sour cherries.

Find Fruit Near You

There are also a couple of websites that can get you in touch with fruit that is available.

RipeNear.Me is a website app that connects the fruit that needs picking with the people who want to pick it. You can post food you grow yourself as growing or ripe and ready to be picked and homeowners are free to swap, sell, or give away their produce. You can “subscribe” to any produce listing to be notified when it is ripe and receive notifications from the owner. This tool doesn’t seem to be widely used yet, so spread the word and start harvesting!

Another website is www.fallingfruit.org. This comprehensive website has quite a few Calgary locations and they describe themselves as “a celebration of the overlooked culinary bounty of our city streets.” Be sure to double-check for accuracy and consider the ethics of urban foraging. Many of the markers on the Calgary map are also private – be sure to follow all laws regarding trespassing.

Fresh, local food and community cooperation equal a healthier community and less waste in our food cycle. Join the harvest in Calgary this year!