Fruit in people's backyards is often wasted, but a Barrie group is finding a way to make sure it is put to good use.

“People are finding that the fruit is just falling off and they may not have time to pick it much less be able to eat all of it,” says Erich Jacoby-Hawkins. “What we are doing is partnering with the fruit tree owners to bring volunteers in to help out pick that fruit so instead of being a nuisance it become an asset and becomes a valuable part of our local food system.”

It's called Fruit Share. The way it works is that after volunteers pick the fruit, one third goes to the tree owner, one third to the volunteers who picked it, and the last third goes to the Barrie Food Bank. It's based on a similar program in Toronto, and it seems to be working well.

“So far we've been able to distribute five hundred pounds of fruit,” says Jacoby-Hawkins.

Organizers at the food bank say the program has helped meet a critical need.

“For our clients to receive fresh fruit, fresh pears and fresh apples, basically that means that they are getting the nutrition that they haven't been receiving in the past,” says Food Bank director Peter Sundborg.

This year, about a dozen trees have been picked by roughly two dozen volunteers.

“The world needs all the help it can get,” says Marry Ann Jacoby. “And this is a good thing we can do. We can save what's already out there and help a lot of people…”

The program is still in the pilot phase. If people want to have their tree picked, or find out how they can volunteer, they can reach the organization by email.

Despite the success of this project so far, organizers say it could be much bigger and better if they had more equipment and more volunteers to help pick the fruit and get it to food banks.