Picking Fresh Fruit in the City

My only experience with fresh fruit, when I was growing up, was the blueberries that I picked in the forest. That changed when I met and married my Sweetheart. She introduced me to all sorts of fruits I had never heard of… like mango and papaya.  Then she had me pick fresh ones right off the tree!

It was during my doctoral studies at the University of Waterloo. We were walking on the campus when she saw a cluster of crab-apple trees. After checking with appropriate authorities from the University, we picked the ripe crab-apples so that she could make some jam. It was my first experience in personally picking fruits from trees.

It was exhilarating. It felt like an Adam and Eve connection to nature.

Later with our kids, we would take trips to St. Ignatius College, a Jesuit seminary in Guelph, picking apples in their orchard. Trips to the Niagara region were also fun. We would our children would accompany us for tastings at the wineries. Although they could not taste the wine, we had them look at it and smell it. After, we would wander the vineyards so that they could taste the numerous varieties of grapes – trying to anticipate what the wine would taste like.

Sometimes, you don’t need to go far to experience that picking of fruit from trees. I described in Ottawa Family Living why I like living in the neighborhood I am in.  Recently, Sweetheart and I expanded our usual walk to include the adjacent hydro corridor. We were pleasantly surprised to find many fruit bearing trees and shrubs!

In the little span of the corridor, we discovered blackberries, choke cherries, crab-apples and apples.

Ripening apples under the hydro tower. Photo by Alan Viau
Ripening apples under the hydro tower. Photo by Alan Viau
Blackberries. Photo by Alan Viau
Choke Cherries. Photo by Alan Viau
Choke Cherries. Photo by Alan Viau
Crab-apple. Photo by Alan Viau
Crab-apple. Photo by Alan Viau

We’ve picked a bucket of choke cherries to make jam. The apples are coming along. We munched the blackberries along the way.

Picking fruit is a great way to teach children two things. The first is the connection to nature. This is what fruit looks like in the wild – without pesticides and fertilizers. Second, picking fruit educates them on where their food comes from – what it takes to make something from it.

It is one of those small life pleasures to pick fruit. Somehow they just taste better when you harvest them. So if you’ll excuse me the crab-apples are ready …


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