Jesuit Pear Revitalization Project

Overview- Many people are now starting to explore the foods that were produced in their region from a historical standpoint.   These are lost food stories that Slow Food has coined the “Ark of Taste” that tell a much deeper cultural story of regions and their food.

One example of this is the Jesuit Pear that was brought to the Great Lakes region by Jesuit priests from France to help French settlers have something to eat during the cold, long winters our region experiences.   In Chatham Kent we have several historically French speaking communities like Pain Court and pockets in and around Tilbury, extending done to Windsor-Essex with Belle River.

The Jesuit Pear tree once dotted our region and sadly because it didn’t fit into the industrial model of agriculture that drives our food system it is near extinct and lost from our region.  In 2016 it was nominated by a French descendant and put on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste list. Since that time we have worked collaboratively with other committed to the preservation of this heirloom pear.    

This has also become an international project because members of Slow Food’s Ann Arbor chapter reached out to us to work together to tell this Pear’s story on both sides of the border.

Each spring for the last 3 years we have done a grafting workshop so more of these pears can be planted and reestablished for future generations to taste and experience.  We also have a tasting event that happens simultaneously at the spring session so people can taste this rare fruit. In the fall we do an annual preserving workshop so the traditional way this pear was eaten can be experience and also so we have the jesuit pear to sample in spring workshop.