With the cost of food continuing to rise, a group of Nakusp citizens began meeting last fall to discuss possible ways to mitigate the situation. From these meetings, Root and Branch Harvest was formed. Their aim is to promote food security by increasing awareness of, and access to, locally available food.
Similar to the very successful Harvest Share in New Denver, Root and Branch Harvest’s mission is to connect growers who have surplus food with volunteer harvesters. The harvested food will then be shared among growers, volunteers, and community groups, with distribution amounts being negotiable. For example, it might be half to the grower and half to the volunteers, or one third to the grower, one third to the volunteers, and one third to a community group such as the food bank.
Other benefits of this program will be to reduce human-wildlife conflicts that often come with unpicked fruit, supply local livestock owners with windfall and damaged fruit, reduce food wastage, help seniors or others who do not have the time or energy to deal with their harvest, involve students in local food production, and build and strengthen community capacity. Root and Branch Harvest will also liaise with the Old Fire Hall Collective Society for use of their community kitchen to process excess food, i.e.: canning, juicing, dehydrating.
To determine if their project was needed, Root and Branch Harvest launched a survey asking people if they had either experienced or heard of human-wildlife conflict due to unpicked fruit, if they knew of surplus food needing harvesting, and if they would be interested in volunteering with this program. The responses and additional comments were positive and very encouraging, and the group has also received letters of support from Bear Aware, Harvest Share, Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services, and the Old Fire Hall Collective Society.
The next step was to produce a budget and develop information packages for both growers and volunteers, including a waiver that must be signed by volunteers. The group is now applying for funding to cover the costs of advertising, office supplies and equipment, and also to hire a project co-ordinator. This year the focus will be on fruit trees and gardens between Nakusp and Burton, but if the project is successful they hope to expand to include Fauquier and Edgewood next year. For more information or to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by their table at the upcoming CBT Community Initiatives vote in Nakusp on April 17.