The Permaculture Co-op not only picks food, but processes it to share with the growers, pickers, and needy people in the community. Photo submitted

West Kootenay gleaner’s group gets big funding boost

CBT grant allows project to save more local produce from compost bin

A Slocan Valley group’s work to prevent food waste has received a big boost from the Columbia Basin Trust.

The Trust is giving the West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op $89,000 to expand its pilot program of the last two years.

“Communities told us that making essentials like nutritious food more affordable and accessible is a priority for improving well-being in our region,” said Aimee Ambrosone, director, delivery of benefits at CBT. “Food recovery is one way that we can meet the needs of children and families, while also helping to reduce food waste and loss.”

Under the program, the co-op (which works under the brand Kootenay Food) will expand its capacity to pick and process unused fruits and vegetables produced in the valley.

They’ll start by expanding and improving their database of food sources and food harvesters, says co-op chair Shauna Fidler.

“One of the priorities is to have people register food trees, or crops that are going unharvested,” says Fidler. “We will come out and harvest the crop, and then the landowner can take a share of the harvested portion of the crop or take a share of what we turn it into, which is a shelf-stable preservative.”

The co-op has put an easy-to-fill-out form on its website, says Fidler, for both pickers and people with food to pick.

West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op

The grant will also allow the co-op to buy a van for moving harvest and people around the valley, and to expand their school programs and First Nations.

The core of the program is sharing: the grower gets a share of the gleaning, as do the pickers; the food is processed by the group, and those results are also shared by all involved.

The rest of the food is shared in the community to people experiencing food insecurity.

Last year, about 3,000 pounds of food was shared out. The year before, a bumper apple crop, more than 12,000 pounds of food went out to the community.

Fidler says it’s a worthy project for the valley.

“If you look at cold, hard stats, we are much lower income than the rest of the country. That’s a quantifiable fact,” says Fidler. “One of the things we do have, though, is an innate, hardy, homestead-y kind of a culture here. So we do have a lot of people growing a lot of food, which for various reasons people are unable to collect or harvest.

“We will help close the gap between available resources — such as good food and the know-how to acquire and handle it — and those most in need.”

The co-op would like to hear from people with trees or gardens from Castlegar and Nelson, all the way up the Slocan Valley, but they’re not looking for food from restaurants or grocery stores.

This will be the third year the program will run, and Fidler says the new money will allow them to expand their product range. Last year they gave out 12 kinds of food or shelf-ready preserves; this year that number will double.

Fidler says people can start contacting them now.

“Volunteer and let us know about your excess harvest,” she says. “Get involved, come pick fruit, come make jam. And then if you have those extra trees, let us know, let us help you out.

“And you’ll get some jam.”

The West Kootenay Permaculture Co-op is a not-for-profit incorporated in January 2014. It evolved from the Valley Permaculture Guild that originated in 2012.

The group also has an AGM on May 23.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Valley of the Springs Winery grand opening event a smashing success

Three of four time slots available during the two-day event completely sold out

New 4.9 hectare fire burning east of Trout Lake

Another out-of-control fire in the Lake Creek area has also grown to 6.6 hectares

UPDATE: Search effort underway for Slocan River drowning victim

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Creston Valley Hospital addresses COVID-19 rumours regarding farms

‘Not one seasonal worker in Creston has tested positive for COVID-19,’ said Dr. Nerine Kleinhans

Most Read