Ethanol as Fuel – Fruit Project

Sean Isles is an entrepreneur in Vancouver and he sent the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project information about his new project working with ethanol. Ethanol fuel can be made from anything that has sugar in it, like fruit that is so far past its prime that no one wants to eat it or cook with it. He writes, “Ethanol is a good replacement for gasoline as fuel for cars.  It is carbon-neutral because the carbon that enters the atmosphere from the car’s exhaust has been taken out of the atmosphere during the prior growing season when the plant used it in photosynthesis.

It can be produced locally, unlike gasoline – have you ever heard of a back-yard oil refinery?”

Sean wants to see whether it’s feasible to make fuel alcohol on a community scale.  One of the requirements is a supply of feedstock, like waste fruit.  He’s hoping to partner with the Vancouver Tree Fruit Project Society to turn waste fruit into fuel and will keep VFTP informed about the performance of the fuel in small engines.  As locally-made fuel proves itself, he’ll invite members of the community to test the fuel in real-world driving conditions, then use the momentum generated to build a larger plant that can turn waste into fuel for everyone. Continue reading


Fruit Tree Canning Workshop

This past Saturday the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project in partnership with the Grandview Woodland Food Connection hosted a Canning 101 workshop at Britannia Community Centre which I taught. 9 participants joined us to can apricots.

The workshop went pretty well, though as usual I feel like I am still learning. And as usual there were a few jars that just did not behave properly, leaking upon removal from the boil. I still cannot figure out why this is as we were so careful to get the correct headspace and all. Maybe there were too many air bubbles that we missed getting out. Anyways, like gardening, canning is a continuous learning and experimenting experience.

I actually just returned the day before from a trip to the Rockies and back through the Kootenays and then Keremeos and Cawston where I stopped to load up on amazing fruit. There are three wonderful organic fruit stands that I know of – Blush Lane, Parsons Farm and the third I forget, but which also has organic wine to taste and buy.  Basically we stopped at each thinking we had already bought enough, but then laid down another $50 for more fruit. My favorite fruits are the small ping pong ball size (or smaller) apricots from Parsons Farm. I forget the name of the variety, but they are wonderful.

Ian Marcuse,  Coordinator, Grandview Woodland Food Connection

Welcome to Dom! Our Katimavik volunteer for 2011

Do you know what Katimavik is? Katimavik is a volunteering program in Canada. It gives youth the chance to take part in intensive service and learning projects that help change Canadian communities. Through their volunteer work, youth grow and mature into engaged citizens.” (

My name is Dominic and I am a Katimavik volunteer in East Vancouver in an Eco program. Part of my job is working with the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project. During the week I also work at the Pedal depot, a bike co-op and during the weekend my group and I volunteer with diverse events and organizations. I have been here since July 6th and I am staying until December 16th.

I’m from the Province of Quebec and I grew up in a very little town call Taschereau (close of Rouyn-Noranda, 7 hours of driving in north of Montreal). After my high school, I went to Quebec City for a couple of months learning about music and violin making. After, I came back to Rouyn-Noranda at Cegep and I studied in botany and forestry for one and a half years. I am passionate about a lot of things but mainly about music and Biology and I hope that my knowledge will help here in the field of fruit trees.

So now that I’m here, enjoying the beauty of British Columbia and Vancouver, I’m really happy to work with the Vancouver Fruit Tree project. I hope to meet you soon and I will be happy to talk with you and answer your questions.

Also, in the coming months I will write articles in the blog about Forestery, botany, harvesting etc.


Hello, Sunrise

woman bending to pick apples from a tree

by Artful Danni on Flickr.

Despite a serious slack of genuine summer weather and a worryingly late fruit harvest season, we are at the beginning of apple season. One of the best and brightest summer apple varieties is the Sunrise apple. For those not in the know, the Sunrise apple is a cross between the McIntosh apple and the Golden Delicious apple. It was developed in Summerland, BC[i]. Being an early harvest apple, it does not store as well as the later season apples, but it has a great crisp sweetness. A medium apple (approximately 154g) contains 80 calories, zero fat and sodium and 5g of dietary fibre[ii].  If you are doing a large harvest or making a large purchase, it is good to know that Sunrise apples make excellent applesauce. They also make a damn good apple tart. It sounds posh, it looks posh but if you don’t make the pastry dough yourself, it is a very simple treat to pull together. Remember, if you have a producing fruit tree in your yard, contact the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project to set up a harvest schedule that will help you help your community. Share the apple tart wealth.


  •  1 sheet of frozen puff pastry , defrosted
  • 4 Sunrise apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
  • 1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm apricot jam (any kind of jam will work as long as you like it with apples)
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, rum or water (choose rum if you use apricot jam)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the pastry dough slightly larger than 10×14 inches (or whatever size your baking sheet is). Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices. Place overlapping slice of apples diagonally down the middle the tart (the dough on your pan is the tart at this point) and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. Sprinkle with the full half cup of sugar and dot with the small diced butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. The apple juices may burn in the pan but the tart will be fine. When the tart is done, heat the apricot jelly together with the rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

You can find the recipe with dough making instructions at .

~ Aubrie is a blogger with the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project.

[i] “Okanagan Summer Apple Varieties”. Okanagan Vacation Guide, 2008-2012.

[ii] Apple Nutrition Facts, Sunrise Orchards Inc.

[iii] Adapted from “French Apple Tart”. Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavour from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten, New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008.

Is Our Fruit Still Fruit?

Welcome back new blogger William Kwan. William is a teenager currently attending David Thompson Secondary.  He likes to write in his spare time and is passionate about helping the environment.

It was over five thousand years ago when mankind first dabbled into the art of cultivating fruit.  Slowly but surely, fruit farmers around the world have tinkered away at what was once simply a mechanism of seed dispersal.  Through artificial selection, the biggest, brightest and sweetest crops have risen into prominence. Seeing the disparity between modern breeds and their wild relatives makes me wonder what I’m actually eating.  More importantly, is it healthy for us to be tampering with our natural sources of sustenance. Continue reading

Why you should Never Fear Figs

photo of figs

by Mundoo on Flickr

It took me quite a while to really get into figs. I have zero claim to any sort of Asian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean heritage and I didn’t even realise my mother had a fig tree until she mentioned she was having it removed from the yard. I suppose I always assumed figs were an acquired taste, an ‘adult’ taste. It turns out, I’m a nut and figs are delicious. The tricky thing about figs is that they are very delicate and do not travel well. Luckily, the Lower Mainland has a climate that supports the fruit so it doesn’t have to go far to get to your table. And if you don’t appreciate the figs growing in your yard, let the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project harvest them and share them within the community. A large, raw fig (approximately 64g) has a mere 47 calories and is packed with calcium and fibre[i].

Continue reading

Waiting for Cherries

cherries in Vancouver

Cherries are here!

I came home from work on Friday to find three big containers of cherries waiting for me! I’d been watching our trees – one was showing very little fruit and the other…well, it had lots of fruit but it was waaaay up there for only the birds to enjoy. Or so I thought! Our trees are 30 years old and over 30 feet tall. Of course, most of the cherries are in the top 10 feet – well over ladder and even picking pole reach. Hence my amazement at seeing all these cherries in my kitchen!

Some have gone to the neighbours and some I’ve dehydrated but there’s still a big container left. I’ll give it to my neighbour who is skilled at all things food preservation, and let her give them the attention they deserve. I didn’t ask my husband Brad how he got them. I don’t really want to know, because it probably involved climbing ladders and hanging off the roof of our 3-storey complex. Since he is the primary caregiver of our small children (and was home alone with them at the time), I won’t ask, I’ll just give him a big hug for getting them for me. He knows I love cherries – but probably not more than I love him – so one day we’ll have a chat, but not till the cherries and crows are long gone.
– by Erin, VFTP Pres