Laura Reinsborough Founder & Director Not Far From The Tree
Laura Reinsborough is Founder and Director of Toronto's much-loved urban fruit picking project, Not Far From The Tree (NFFTT). For her work in launching NFFTT Lauren is receiving TheWIFTS Foundation Environment Award 2011.
Hailing from Sackville, New Brunswick where she began working in environmental education, Laura's first job in Toronto was in urban agriculture at the High Park Children's Garden. She has since received a Master's degree in Community Arts from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Laura then proceeded to develop community arts programming for a variety of cultural institutions such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of York University, and the Toronto District School Board. She now applies her creativity to issues of urban agriculture and food security through Not Far From The Tree, which is changing the way Toronto residents think about the city's abundant fruit trees.
The non-profit organization's mission is simple. When a homeowner can't keep up with the abundant harvest produced by their tree, they notify Not Far From The Tree and volunteers are mobilized to pick the bounty. The harvest is split three ways: one-third is offered to the tree owner, one-third is shared among the volunteers, and one-third is delivered by bicycle to be donated to food banks, shelters, and community kitchens in the neighborhood so that this existing source of fresh fruit is put to good use.
Since its first full picking season in 2008, Not Far From The Tree has amassed a crew of 150 volunteers and picked more than 36,431 pounds of urban fruit. Not Far From The Tree is now a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society, a registered Canadian charity. For the 2011 season, Not Far From The Tree has doubled its scope from the year previous from 7 to 14 neighborhoods across the city. The plans have been laid to scale this high-impact and award-winning program across the city, growing by a handful of neighborhoods each year.
The TFFTT movement has generated profound impact. Rather than seeing the city's local fruit trees as a burden, the organization is creating a sense of pride in these trees by teaching Torontonians that the fruit in their backyards is healthful, easily accessible, good to eat, and can provide local produce for those in need. With help from a dedicated crew of volunteers, good use of healthy food is being made, climate change is being addressed with hands-on action, and a sense of community is developing simply through the act of sharing urban abundance.
For her work in founding Not Far From The Tree, Laura has been recognized with a Women of the Earth Award, named a "local food visionary" by the Toronto Star, featured in Chatelaine Magazine, and included as one of 18 city-building Torontonians in a book by former Toronto Mayor David Miller. The program was selected as a finalist for a Green Toronto Award after its first year of operations and has been featured in Toronto Life as one of "50 reasons to love Toronto now." When Laura isn't up a tree picking a local harvest, she revels in Toronto's arboreal bounty with her partner and baby.
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