Hidden Harvest is a startup that plans to harness Ottawa’s fruit and nut trees and on Friday it will pitch its fruit-full idea to the city’s eco-minded leaders at the 3i Summit on Sustainability.
“3i is all about bringing people from different environmental sectors together to collaborate and share ideas,” said Katrina Siks of Hidden Harvest. “It’s about creating fertile ground for ideas whose time has come.”
The summit at Dow’s Lake Pavilion will gather 30 Ottawa groups and marks the first time the region’s environmental leaders have met under one roof.
“We’re a lot less green in Ottawa than we think,” said Chris Henderson, co-founder of the summit. “Compared to Toronto and Vancouver our actual green practices on things like rapid transit and green rooftops is poor. At 3i we want to build a better DNA for green practices in the city.”
Siks believes that Hidden Harvest has one of those ideas. “There is a lot of food around our city that is underused or wasted,” she said. “Eight to 10 Canadian cities already have fruit and nut gleaning projects. Lots of people want it, but there hasn’t been any opportunity to catalyze it yet.”
That’s where she says 3i comes in. “We’re going to share our vision and hope to get people excited about it an come away with two teams to start implementing it,” Siks said.
Ottawa has black cherry, apple and pear trees and more than 17 varieties of fruit and nut bearing plants, she said. The group plans to map the plants and encourage Ottawa residents who are losing ash trees on their property to the emerald ash borer to consider planting fruit bearing vegetation.
“All these trees coming down mean the time is ripe for this idea,” Siks said. Although it’s still is in it’s initial planning stages, she hopes to launch a pilot project in three communities in June that could see the fruit from the plants on public land being used throughout the city.