Share the Harvest Annually, thousands of pounds of valuable fruit, nuts and produce goes to waste throughout the Okanagan Valley.
Abandoned orchards, residents with more fruit than they can use, and bumper crops all lead to an abundance of food that is often just left to rot in the fields.
This year, thanks to a City of Penticton grant, a part-time coordinator was hired to increase the amount of healthy, local produce redistributed to those that need it the most.
The aim of the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project, (established in 2012) is to “cultivate community through harvesting local food”.
Volunteers pick fruit and transport it to local charities where it is redistributed to our most vulnerable residents.
The harvested fruit is shared among the volunteer pickers, tree owners, and local charities.
“The goal is to reduce the amount of wasted food and redistribute the healthy produce to hungry people in our communities,” says the project’s Executive Director, Casey Hamilton.
Last year, over 6000 pounds of fruit was picked in the Penticton area with the majority of it going to the Salvation Army Food Bank and the Soupateria.
In the Central Okanagan, over 30,000 pounds was redistributed to those in need.
Every year, the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project continues to grow with increasing numbers of tree owners and volunteers offering their extra produce and labour.
The Fruit Tree Project has also expanded to include harvesting all kinds of vegetables and nut trees, so require more ladders, picking buckets and plastic totes. All cash or in kind donations are greatly appreciated.
“Thank you for what you are doing for the food bank,” Barb Stewart, Penticton Coordinator, Salvation Army says.
"You don’t see the part that I see, where food bank clients light up when they see the boxes of fresh fruit. Odd to think that in this valley of plenty, so many do not have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables. You are helping to address that gap.”
If you have more fruit or produce than you can manage, or if you would like to volunteer, please call or text the Penticton Coordinator, Deb Thorneycroft at 250-328-2895, or email email@example.com.
For more information, visit www.fruittreeproject.com and “Like” the project on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OkanaganFruitTreeProject.