With over 10,700 pounds of fruit harvested and 3,500 pounds of that donated to local charities, The Alberni Valley Gleaning Project has seen its most successful year thus far.
Now in its fifth year, the gleaning project is made up 76 volunteers who pick excess or unwanted fruit from homeowners trees that may otherwise go to waste.
“It was a great year,” said Sarah Thomas, gleaning project coordinator.
“It was a very good year for fruit in general and I think the word got out that the gleaning project was operating and it was very successful.”
With a high demand for fruit picking, the gleaning project has had to officially stop accepting new trees.
“We had so, so many trees and we wanted to make sure that we were able to actually pick all the trees that we committed to so the gleaning project is no longer accepting new trees for the season,” Thomas said.
“However we’re finishing picking all of the trees that we have currently committed to.”
Thomas expects to have all the picking wrapped up by the end of the month.
The fruit gathered by the volunteers is shared, with 30 per cent going to the pickers, 30 per cent to the property owner if desired and 30 per cent to local charities and organizations in need.
In partnership with Alberni Valley Transition Town Society the Alberni Valley Gleaning Project has provided fruit to organizations including the Bread of Life, the Friendship Centre, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Hupacasath First Nation, ACAWS and the Salvation Army.
Some of the fruit from the picks, which is also used for juice and apple sauce, is sold at the farmers’ market at the Harbour Quay and at Healthy Harvest Farm.
“We took some apples up to the apple press in Courtenay, they have a mobile press there, which will actually be in town on [Oct.15], so we got some juice from there that we will be selling at the market,” Thomas said.
All the funds raised through fruit sales goes towards the gleaning project.
“Every year has always been more successful than the last and I think in part because people are learning what’s going on and are getting more into the project,” Thomas said.
The gleaning project is holding a fundraiser—an old-time square dance—on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Cherry Creek Hall from 7-10 p.m.
The dance is appropriate for all ages, with no experience necessary, and will include a live band and caller. Drinks and snacks will be available, including apple cider.
In addition to the dance, a mobile juicer will be in town on Oct. 15 to rinse, slice and press fruit and then pasteurize and package the juice that can be safely stored without refrigeration. The “Pressing Matter” mobile juicer will be at Cherry Creek Hall from 3-7 p.m.
Cost ranges between $6.50 to $8.50 for five litres or $1 a litre for unpasteurized.
For more information or to register the amount of fruit you expect to bring, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.