LUSH Comox Valley’s farm gleaning program growing

Program has grown by more than 300 per cent; more volunteers needed

After a successful first season in 2018, Let Us Share the Harvest Valley Food Action Society (LUSH) is expanding its farm gleaning program for the 2019 growing season.

So far this year, the program has seen a 350 per cent growth by volume of produce redistributed, versus this time in 2018.

The growth can be attributed to the many people in the Comox Valley who believe in a robust and resilient local food system working hard to ensure the program’s success. More volunteers are participating on an increased number of farms this year. As a result, much more fresh produce is successfully being redistributed to those in need in the community.

Michelle from Comox Valley Family Services has seen the impact first-hand.

“We hear so much positive feedback from the Healthy Families participants who receive food from the farm gleaning program,” she says. “The parents appreciate being able to add a variety of local, fresh fruit and vegetables to their families’ diets, without having to make difficult budgeting decisions. We see families sharing recipes, as well as sharing knowledge about preserving different foods as they come into season.”

Farmers are increasingly recognizing the value of having volunteers on their farms; whether it is a weeding work bee or help with the harvest, in exchange for excess produce.

“I am so grateful for the huge crew of LUSH volunteers who came out to my farm and did a ton of weeding with me,” said Jay Williamson of Tendergreens Farm. “Sixteen people showed up! We finished the work bee early because I ran out of areas to weed. What an incredible mid-summer gift. Thank you!”

Despite high consumer demand, some crops such as green beans and field tomatoes can be a challenge for local farmers to bring to market because of the labour involved.

“Last year LUSH volunteers helped me glean the field tomatoes at my farm,” says Michael-Anthony of Last Straw Farm. “Typically, this isn’t a very profitable crop for us, but this year, knowing that I could count on the help of LUSH volunteers, I’ve tripled the planting.”

As the program continues to experience significant growth, with more volunteers and more farmers on board, the real challenge lies in ensuring the effective distribution of fruits and vegetables.

“Getting the harvest to our community partners in good condition and appropriate quantities is a challenge,” said James McKerricher, LUSH Valley farm gleaning co-ordinator. “Understanding the needs of our various partner agencies and delivering the products they will best utilize requires a lot of communication and relationship building. Some organizations only want fruits and vegetables that can be eaten fresh. Others can handle large volumes of produce for soups and other prepared foods.”

With the growth of the farm gleaning program, LUSH Valley is looking to expand its volunteer base.

“It is still early August and the harvest season has only just begun. It looks like it will be a bountiful season,” notes James. “In particular, LUSH is looking for people interested in helping with the sorting or grading and distribution of produce. It is a suitable task for individuals who are not necessarily wanting to work in the fields but are interested in supporting the program. Most of the work is done sitting at a table, and no heavy lifting is required.”

Potential farm gleaning volunteers should contact James McKerricher at fruit@lushvalley.org

Just Posted

Lots to do and see at 145th annual Comox Valley Exhibition

The 145th annual Comox Valley Exhibition offered plenty Friday through Monday, with… Continue reading

VIDEO: Courtenay woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

Fundraisers in place long-time Comox Valley chef

Peter Bradley recovering from emergency brain surgery

Last Simms Park concert of the season to double as a food bank fundraiser

Bring a donation for the food bank to the My Generation concert, Sunday, Aug. 25

City of Courtenay adds pickleball courts Martin Park lacrosse box

Lacrosse, pickleball, and recreational ball hockey players in the Comox Valley can… Continue reading

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

VIDEO: Ride to Conquer Cancer rolls into Hope

Thousands of cyclist descend on small town for annual cancer fundraiser

Island murder victim’s mom expresses outrage over mental fitness decision of the accused

Smith vows to keep fighting until justice served for Descoteau

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

Most Read