As concerns over food waste, food security, and sustainability increase – gleaning, or harvesting food that would otherwise go to waste- is becoming recognized as a viable practice to increase access to healthy food for all. That’s why this year alongside their successful Fruit Tree Program LUSH Valley is launching a Farm Gleaning pilot program to augment and increase the diversity of local fresh and healthy food supplied to those in need.

On Saturday June 8th LUSH Valley is launching a Post Market Pick-up and Farm Gleaning Program at the CV Farmers Market. “We will have a community table where you can learn more about the program from 9-1. Based on the successful model of our Fruit Tree Program, we will pick up post market produce as well as organize volunteers to harvest, gather, sort and distribute products from local growers to those in need.” states LUSH Valley Executive Director Maurita Prato.

Since 2002 LUSH Valley has run a Fruit Tree Program. The program organizes and trains volunteers to harvest backyard fruit trees across the region and then redistributes that fruit back to the community. “Over the past 16 years LUSH Valley has picked well over 250,000 pounds of local fruit. The produce is then distributed three ways: a third to tree owners, a third to volunteers and a third to social services clients. We have over 15 community partners which include: Komoks First Nation, CV Transition Society, CV Food Bank, CV Family Services and Schools across SD71” says, James McKerricher, Fruit Tree Program and Farm Gleaning Coordinator.

McKerricher explains “Both the Fruit Tree and Farm Gleaning programs are volunteer run. We need a lot of hands to make light work of all of the harvesting. Last year we had a little over 200 volunteers helping us. This year with the added Farm Gleaning program we are looking for even more volunteer support particularly as ‘pick leaders’”

If you are interested in volunteering to harvest, signing up your tree or registering your farm for a free gleaning service, please sign up on our new website: www.lushvalley.org or contact James at fruit@lushvalley.org. Our Fruit Tree Program Volunteer Orientation sessions will be held Wednesday, June 13th 6-7pm and Saturday, June 16th from 12-1pm at the Courtenay Public Library.

LUSH Valley recognizes: VIHA, Comox Valley Community Foundation, BC Gaming, City of Courtenay and Peninsula Coop for their support of our 2018 gleaning season.

Find out more about LUSH Valley Food Action Society and our work. Visit our new website at: www.lushvalley.org Or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @lushvalleyfood

James McKerricher

Fruit Tree Program and Farm Gleaning Program Coordinator, LUSH Valley Food Action Society