Last week I was given the exciting task of leading a pick in Scarborough. Not Far From The Tree’s primary zone for picking has traditionally been in the 12 municipal wards that make up Old Toronto and East York. This is where we have most of our registered trees, our strongest volunteer presence and all of our cargo bikes and picking gear. So in order to begin leading picks in Scarborough the first step was to get one of our great cargo bikes into the neighbourhood.
As great as our cargo bikes are for downtown Toronto it was our fear that it would be very difficult for our Supreme Gleaners to cover the expansive neighbourhoods of Scarborough. Understanding that this would be an eventual issue for Not Far From The Tree’s movement into the inner suburbs of Toronto there was much discussion of what sustainable form of transportation would be best for these areas. This was a major reason for choosing the Babboe City style bikes for Not Far From The Tree’s fruit tree picking program, because they are one of the few cargo bikes that can be fitted with an E-Assist motor. With funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation we were able to install an E-assist motor on one of our Babboe Cities making them more suitable for long distance rides that will be necessary in places like Scarborough.
Though the bike still appears to be one of our regular cargo bikes after a couple of rotations of the pedals the motor kicks in and helps to propel the bike along. The motor has three speeds low, medium, and high. When set to high the bike really moves! The motor made riding from our office at 401 Richmond to Sheppard and Kennedy much easier. Though the ride was easier it was still a long ride. It took close to two hours and covered over thirty kilometers to get the bike to its home in a backyard shed in Scarborough-Agincourt. This is where the bike will live and many fruit picks will be coordinated from in the years to come.
Most often, if I am headed to Scarborough it is via the TTC or car, this has never given me the opportunity to keep my eyes open for fruit trees. Riding a bike was a whole other story. I rode along the bike trail that runs through the Gatineau Hydro Corridor. This is a great trail that has loads of backyards edging up against it. From the trail I spotted dozens of fruit trees, and those were just the apples and pears that were visible. After the Gatineau trail I turned north along Birchmount Road, a street that is lined by backyards, here I saw stretches of neighbouring backyards with fruit trees. When I arrived at our pear pick and headed to the backyard, I noticed that all five neighbouring yards had at least one pear or apple tree! We picked fifty pounds of beautiful pears and delivered a third to our wonderful Scarborough-Agincourt community organization Agincourt Community Services Association.
I think that Scarborough might be a gold mine for fruit however we only have six fruit trees registered in the area. We’ve begun a flyer campaign for the area to try and get more trees registered. If you are interested in flyering in Scarborough-Agincourt or becoming a member of a Scarborough outreach team please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please circulate our Scarborough-Agincourt Outreach E-Flyer as well to any parties you may think would be interested. Also, don’t forget, you can always register trees you’ve spotted on behalf of the homeowner, as long as you have their permission.
Here’s the Scarborough Outreach E-Flyer.
Here’s a video of our E-Assist Babboe City in action riding along the Gatineau Hydro Corridor.