People struggling to make ends meet and get enough food on their plates is a growing problem in BC.
Fortunately, it’s far from the only thing growing in the Alberni Valley. Apples, pears, figs, plums, cherries, hazelnuts and all kinds of berries are just a few of the abundant foods that grow here.
The key to utilizing them is moving them from neighbourhood branches to neighbourhood tables.
That’s where the Alberni Valley Food Security Society steps in.
For the last 12 years, they’ve been helping to feed the Valley through their “Gleaning Project.”
For those unfamiliar with the term “Gleaning,” it’s a biblical term describing the ancient practice of harvesting surplus crops and redistributing them to people in need.
It was common until the 18th century when landowners began closing off land and restricting access to fields.
Today, it’s used to describe when people gather to collect excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers’ markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources to provide to those in need.
In the Valley, the project focuses on backyard trees producing more fruit than owners know what to do with!
The Alberni Valley Gleaning Project connects tree owners who have unwanted or excess fruit with volunteers who want to harvest and enjoy local fruit.
The program collects around 11,000 pounds of fruit per year! But they need volunteers and willing tree owners to help make that happen!
The project is a win for all involved. When fruit or other produce is collected, One-third goes to the property owner (or they can donate if they wish), one-third goes to the pickers, and the last third is donated to local food security programs.
It’s a great way to get involved in the community, decrease food waste, help protect your neighbourhood from hungry wildlife, and put some nutritious (and free!!) food on your and others’ plates.
The Gleaning Project makes the old saying “waste not, want not” a reality.
You can sign up as a picker or host and have your tree or garden picked here.
Produce will be picked in order of ripeness and seasonal priority. As the group says, they are “knee-deep” in the gardening season, so check them out for additional resources or to lend a helping hand.