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.

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia incumbent MP responds to Trudeau brownface scandal

Stetski proud of NDP leader Singh’s reaction, which focused on people not power

Mystery illness killing Kootenay bees

Samples being sent to laboratories for analysis

UPDATED: Man pleads guilty in Baker Street death

Miles Halverson is guilty of manslaughter in the death of Matt Reeder

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Most Read