Not Far From the Tree is a Toronto group that organizes volunteer pickings of residential fruit trees when the owners are unwilling or unable to do it themselves – and you wouldn’t believe how many trees there are in this city. This is, I think, my third year volunteer-picking for them – I never do tons of picks, just a few to keep in the loop and get some fruit.
This morning I helped out with a cherry pick at a house near Bloor and Christie. There were seven of us plus two kids helping out. The tree was huge, and we knew when we started we would have to leave some for the birds.
We always start by clearing the ground of branches, windfall and fruit half eaten by birds or squirrels. Then it’s time to pick. This morning involved a lot of reaching:
But we all agreed the result was worth it.
One-third of the cherries picked go to charity, one-third to the homeowner (though they often give that up), and one-third to the volunteers. I ate many cherries today.
My parents live in BC’s Okanagan valley and have a cherry tree in their yard, which provides pounds and pounds of delicious cherries to be eaten fresh, baked with, dried and canned. (The home-dried cherries, which are quite hard, are perfect added to oatmeal while it cooks.)
The cherries are so delicious that the birds love them, too. This week, as I’ve been visiting, tons of birds have been pecking away at the cherries, which aren’t quite ripe yet (but are getting there fast). So last night, we took preventive measures and performed the annual putting up of the net.
The net doesn’t entirely stop the birds (there are three out there on top of the tree as I type) but it makes it hard for them to land on the tree, as they don’t like standing on the net. So it’s a good compromise – some cherries for them, some for us. (I might have nibbled some not-quite-ripe cherries myself while we were doing the work.)
Putting up the net involves long sticks, finesse and a bit of ladder time. It likes to stick to the tree, you see. But it’s worth it to see the tasty fruit protected.