Every year many fruits rot in our gardens because they could not be fully picked. However, these are fresh, healthy and local fruits that just wait for one thing: to be harvested. To respond to this problem, the association “Aux Arbres Citoyens!” was made in 2020. His mission? Organize solidarity collections. Discovery.
“At a time when most food travels hundreds of miles to reach our plates, we decided to take action”, explains POSITIVR Coralie Tisné-Versailles, co-founder of the association “Aux Arbres Citoyens!”. This organization was founded with a specific purpose: fight against food waste and benefit those who have difficulty accessing fresh, local and seasonal fruits. To this end, the association organizes solidarity actions among the inhabitants of La Rochelle and the surrounding area.†
Combine business with pleasure
Naturally, pick-ups are organized from people who request them. At the end of the uprising, about 20% of the fruit is distributed between the volunteer pickers and the garden owners, and 80% between the local food aid associations. “This way we not only avoid waste, but we also benefit the most vulnerable people who have difficult access to these types of fresh products.”
†By participating in a solidarity collection, you are doing both a meaningful action (fight against waste, support for the most vulnerable) and a pleasant time (new encounters, spending time in nature).†
But organizing such a meeting cannot be improvised, which is one of the reasons why the shared fruit harvest in France is much less common than that of vegetables. Indeed, it requires a great reactivity, a little bit of equipment (especially ladders) and above all the mobilization of several volunteers in a very short time. But once this solid network of pickers is in place, all that’s left to enjoy the moment is, as Coralie explains to us: “Team picking is a fun activitywhere the return on the effort made is immediate, because you quickly feel that your bag is filling up with fruit.”
And the good news is that this initiative benefits everyone : the owners are relieved to share their fruit, the pickers leave with their bags full of delicious cherries, apples, pears… and the beneficiaries of food aid benefit from healthy and local products that they could not normally afford.
Kilo’s of fruit saved
Since the launch of the operation in 2020, the association “Aux Arbres Citoyens” has collected several hundred kilos of fruit† This year the season has started with cherries (already saved 500 kg) and plum pickers will be organized in La Rochelle and the surrounding area in the coming days. “On average, a team of pickers mobilizes 5 to 6 volunteers, depending on the size of the tree or garden. Fortunately, the association can count on an active local network of many volunteers.”
For the time being, the association only intervenes around the coastal town of Charente-Maritime, but it may well be that solidarity actions are organized elsewhere. †This winter we started thinking about duplicating what we started in La Rochelle elsewhere, in the form of a social franchise.” A new association “Aux Arbres Citoyens – Sud Strasbourg” will be created shortly to validate and consolidate this practice. Next target? Expand to other French cities†
Do you want to go on an adventure? Go here to participate in a solidarity fundraiser.