When I moved into my new place a few years back, I was thrilled to find a mature apple tree in my backyard. Not the pathetic little crab apples of my Alberta youth, good for pelting unsuspecting neighbourhood kids and not much more, but actual apples. Apples like they’d grow in Normandy, or Vermont. I watched them grow over the course of that first summer with palm-sweating anticipation and when they finally got around to ripening…meh. And there were so many of them it was meh x 2000.
They weren’t Royal Galas, Pink Ladies or Fujis. They weren’t even Braeburn, the Buicks of grocery store apples. They were just some random genus that had been past over for terminal nondescriptiveness. And they were everywhere. I’m sure that there are some natural wine loving types out there who would revel in their idiosyncratic plainness, but no doubt those hipsters would have a tough time stooping to pick them off my lawn in their skinny jeans.
I briefly tried to make chutney with them but no one needs that much chutney. Applesauce? No one needs any applesauce. So they just sat there, until I went out and gathered them and dumped them into the recycling bin. Which made me feel like a terrible, spoiled shit. This tree, which once upon a time had been full of such promise now served to undermine my bona fides as a person who cares about the planet. Who gives a hoot what you say about global warming if you’re the type of person who throws apples in the trash!
And then…salvation arrived in the form of Jeff and Nathaly Nairn. The duo owns Windfall Cider, the Vancouver urban cidery, and as such probably hate the thought of wasted apples even more than I do. So last year they started the Lost & Found Project to gather these unloved apples (they even take crabapples those sweet people) and turn them into cider, sell said cider and donate some of the profits to the Vancouver Food Bank. “Once we started making cider we realized the abundance of fruit trees in and around Vancouver; a majority of this fruit tends to go to waste and we want to stop that,” explains Jeff Nairn, Windfall’s Cider Maker.
They’ll set up shop on Saturday October 20th at Riley Park from 1:30 - 2:30 and will be there to receive your buckets, bushels and bags of apples (they don't need to be perfect) and start the process of turning them into good works (and tasty spring cider). Talk about a win win.