Local food security initiative is looking to reduce food waste
With global food and hunger issues looming large, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the scope of the problem and not know what to do to help. But hunger and malnutrition exist in our community too and many local agencies and programs exist with the mandate to help provide food to disadvantaged people in our city.
The Gleaning Program has been operating since 2003 to reduce food waste in our community by helping community members access and share surplus produce. Volunteer gleaners pick produce and share some with family, friends and neighbors. A significant amount of produce is donated to local agencies such as the food bank. To date, the program has harvested almost 100,000 lbs of pounds of fruit, vegetable and nuts and 14 community agencies have received food.
The Gleaning Program had a highly successful year in 2009, harvesting and distributing almost 25,000 lbs of produce and engaging a record number of volunteer gleaners and tree owners. However, 2010 has not been as successful. Fruit tree yields are down significantly and trees that were bursting with fruit in 2009 are barren this year. It is thought that a number of factors including weather and insect pollination have contributed to the decreased yields.
In order to make up the shortfall, the Gleaning Program is inviting community members to ensure the success of the program this year. Those with producing fruit and nut trees in their back yards are asked to call and allow volunteer gleaners to access their fruit. Likewise, backyard growers or farmers with too much vegetable bounty can call the Gleaning Program and have volunteers pick the rest of their produce.
The Gleaning Program is set to wrap up at the end of October but will continue as long as people continue to phone with their fruit and nut trees and volunteers are willing to continue picking. Call 816-4769 with your trees or gardens.
Brought to you by Nanaimo Community Gardens Society and Nanaimo Foodshare Society