The Week — Sept. 8

Fruit for all, if we lend a hand, drugs with a healing flare and the first annual Federation of BC Writers festival kicks off in Vic

Volunteers with LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project pick from historic old trees, like the ones above in St. Ann’s Academy, and from newer fruit hopefuls.

Fruit for all, if we lend a hand

Fruit is falling all around, but ne’er a bite to eat? Not if LifeCycle’s Fruit Tree Project has anything to say about it.

Thanks to the group of non-profit volunteers who make it their business to get sticky, tree owners and fruit enthusiasts alike can get a next-to-free helping hand from those who want to bring fruity goodness to everyone — but they’ll need your help to do so.

The project, now in its 13th year, seeks to match ready-to-burst fruit trees with read-to-wilt fruit lovers. Every fall — peak harvest season in the northwest — the group scrambles to find volunteers willing to pick, and those willing to donate their trees to the cause, which doesn’t come without a healthy reward. For only $5, pickers split up 25 per cent of each pick, while another 25 per cent goes directly to the owners — for a donation only. The final 50 per cent of the fruit is donated equally to downtown food banks like Mustard Seed and the Sandy Merriman house, and to the Fruit Tree’s own store, which makes preserves and fruit products they can sell to fund the project. “It’s a wonderful project, because it can help so many people in so many ways,” says Renate Nahser-Ringer. “It helps people access fresh fruit who otherwise would have no way of doing so, whether that’s someone who can’t afford it, or an elderly person who can’t pick it.”

As Nahser-Ringer points out on the website, Victoria was the legendary fruit growing centre of B.C. in the 1800s. While some stately old fruit trees remain — often unkept — in the historical backyards across the city, busy lifestyles have left the wasps to gorge on homegrown fruit, while Victorians bring home bags of Okanagan Granny Smiths.

In fall, the group sees between one and three picks a day — including some in the evening — until the end of September. In scarcer months, picks occur from as close as downtown Victoria to as far as Colwood. Right now, Nahser-Ringer says the team is especially seeking “loaded, ripe trees” of plums, pears, figs, apples and quince.

To learn more, or to sign up your tree or your hands, visit lifecyclesproject.ca.

Drugs with a healing flare

Gabor Maté believes Ayahuasca and other psychedelic drugs have more of a mission than just one heck of a wild weekend: he says they can aid in the treatment of addiction and some psychoses — and he aims to show Victorians just what he means.

Maté, a Canadian physician known for his activism and studies in addiction and mental health, is being brought to Victoria by city councillor Philippe Lucas in an event titled “Out of Mind: The Therapeutic Application of Psychedelics to Treat PTSD and Addictions.” And while some of Maté’s views have hit a controversial nerve with many, the Hungarian-born author has left his mark in humanistic literature, penning four books and two best-sellers, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Maté will be joined by Dr. Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. Lucas decided to bring the two to Victoria in an effort to draw “something novel and cutting edge” to the city’s current viewpoints.

“This is something I can confidently say will be the most revolutionary and boundary-pushing event the city will see all year,” says Lucas. “One of the peripheral harms we’ve seen with [drug control] is throwing the baby out with the bath water … it’s been great to see a resurgence in the study of therapy drugs to treat these disorders.”

Doblin has done extensive research on the affect MDMA and cannabis have on individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, addictions and more. Currently, Lucas is coordinating a study into Maté’s addictions retreats to see the affect such therapies have on recovering individuals, especially months post-treatment.

Maté and Doblin will speak Tuesday, Sept. 13, 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Alix Goolden Hall (907 Pandora). Tickets $20 at Sacred Herb, $25 at the door. Students $10.

Speaking of retreats

For those interested in getting away from all the craziness of a city, this week marks “Wired Words — A Writers’ Festival In New Media.”

The first annual Federation of BC Writers festival will be held at the Maritime Museum’s courtroom on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Writers of all genres (emerging or professional) are invited to register for this full day of seminars on social media and new technological opportunities for writers. Visit wiredwords.org for more. M

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