The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society’s annual gleaning event took place at the Kauffman’s Dunley Ranch recently. (Amandah Cullum photo)

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society’s annual gleaning event took place at the Kauffman’s Dunley Ranch recently. (Amandah Cullum photo)

FOREST INK: Local food hub busy getting food to needy

Volunteers spend a beautiful afternoon gleaning near Soda Creek

My knee was hurting forcing me to use a crutch so I had an excuse not to go “gleaning” at the Kaufman ranch, but my wife had committed to going so we thought that I may be of some help as well. Many people are probably familiar with the Kaufman ranch near Soda Creek where they grow U-pick corn plus a variety of vegetables and flowers.

Bill Lloyd was already there with his truck and trailer along with a number of volunteers digging up potatoes by hand. We had an easier job picking beets, removing the tops and transporting them in boxes to my pickup truck. Thanks to Amanda Cullum and Martin Kruus for arranging some assistance from a grade seven Columneetza class. Mr. Wilson and Ms. Campsell arrived with a busload of very high-energy, exuberant students. After getting an introduction to what the various tasks were by ranch owner Linda Kaufman the students were split into various groups to help with some other volunteers that were already at work throughout the fields. Some helped using wheelbarrows to move potatoes to the trailer, and others were helping us pick beets and move them in boxes to the truck. Brianna van de Wijngaard and Linda Kaufman were also busy organizing the students and other volunteers in the picking of squash, cucumbers and carrots.

Brianna is the project coordinator for the Central Cariboo Community Food Hub Project and works with the Williams Lake Social Planning Council (WLSPC) to develop a food hub and increase food security in the region for vulnerable people. As described in the March issue of the Willams Lake Tribune one of the projects will be to set up a system and schedule to recover more of the so-called “write-offs” local producers wouldn’t sell. She has been in touch with farmer’s market organizers to try and make sure vendors know this option is available. Van de Wijngaard said that even local gardeners or homeowners who find themselves with significant amounts of extra produce or fruit on their trees can contact the organization, and they will be working to pick up and distribute this surplus to those in need.”

A second goal will include expanded “gleaning” of the extra produce left in fields or on fruit trees by local producers. The group will be looking to work with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society, which already does work recovering leftover crops and donating them to a variety of groups in the area, including the Women’s Contact Society, the Williams Lake First Nation and the Salvation Army.

Around noon the truck was nearly full of beets thanks to the exuberance of the students, and my knee was feeling a lot better, so I was pleased that I had decided to come. We left for town in the early afternoon and headed for the Salvation Army kitchen.

Tari Davidge greeted us and agreed to take the entire truckload of beets, as it seems making borscht is one of her favourite meals to offer the clients. I talked to Tari on Friday and she wanted me to pass on her thanks for all involved in supplying the food and mentioned that some vegetables have already been picked up by their clients.

It was great to be involved with the gleaning crew and see the food go to some establishments that were going to put it to good use.

What a beautiful afternoon with the sounds of Canada geese and Sandhill cranes in the background while working alongside other volunteers all with a common purpose of turning potential waste into good food for people in need. I can’t think of a better way a person could spend a beautiful fall day in the Cariboo.

Read More: FOREST INK: How to pass on novel legacy forest practices

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