Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cleveland Fruit Share Comes to the Rescue

"I prayed for a late frost, but Mother Nature didn't want to hear it."

Susan hated the old pear tree that shaded her deck and driveway ever since the first year she bought the house.

"Who knew those lovely white blossoms would stink like dirty underpants? How many times I would walk onto the deck that first spring and wonder where that nasty, musty, smell was coming from. It's worse than a locker room. More like sitting on a bus next to a sweaty guy who hasn't bathed for a month."

Pointing at the branches straining with the weight of an overly abundant crop, she continued, "Last year I was so lucky, we had that blizzard in April which killed off all the buds, this year the tree has more pears than ever."

The fruit looked larger than usual too, probably because of the perfect intervals of rain North East Ohio gardeners were blessed with this summer. Trouble is, Susan is neither a gardener nor a cook.

"C'mon, now. How many pears can a girl eat in a few weeks?"

Worse by far than the Spring Stank was the Late Summer Litter.

"Every time I walk out to my car I get pears sticking to the bottom of my shoes. The pears drop all over my deck and my driveway. My dogs and the squirrels leave half eaten remnants, and then the yellow jackets show up, buzzing around. This tree is nothing but a nuisance."

Rolling her eyes in frustration she added, "I'm thinking about having it cut down."

"Hey, Sue! I think I may have a solution to your Pear Problem. Check your e-mail" was the message I left on her cell phone.

A discussion on REALNEO about urban gardens and social networks led me to the website of a brand new organization called Cleveland Fruit Share. The group connects the folks who would like to pick fruit with people who have fruit trees that need harvesting. They also keep their eyes open for fruit trees on abandoned or vacant lots and organize groups to make the trip with ladders and baskets. There are no membership fees, the group is made up entirely of volunteers.

Fruit trees can be a bit like ex-boyfriends; one woman's pain-in-the-neck can be another woman's dream date. As much as Susan hated the mushy slip-and-slide in her driveway, the pears were tasty, and it was a shame to let them all go to waste. She contacted the group immediately.

Saturday afternoon Bobbi, Michelle, and Dolores showed up as promised, and in almost no time, that tree was cleaned of it's crop. The pears were off the branches and into the bushel baskets, with only a few remaining at the very top of the tree, where it was impossible for anyone but the squirrels to reach.

The Cleveland Fruit Share gals thankfully took most of the pears, leaving Susan a couple buckets full, still more than she would ever use, so she is gifting friends and neighbors with fruit. Her next door neighbor loves to bake, so I'm guessing she will probably be the biggest pear beneficiary. (Especially since she sends over a slice or two of whatever comes out of the oven!)

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Kathy G said...

What a great idea!

There is a pear tree in the yard of the house I rent for my tutoring center. Unfortunately, the fruit it produces is not very juice or flavorful.

My students (all of whom are male) pick the fruits at each break and throw them at a tree with a large trunk across the yard to watch them splat.

Cheap entertainment!

marybeth said...

According to Susan's neighbor,(the one with culinary gifts)hard pears are best for baking. Having tasted her pear cobbler, I can vouch for her expertise.