Share in the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project’s fall harvest

Help get nutritious food to hungry people in the community.

The Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is on a mission to pick unwanted produce to share with those in need.

Annually, thousands of pounds of valuable fruits, nuts and vegetables go to waste throughout the Okanagan Valley.

Abandoned orchards and farms, residents with more fruit than they can use, and bumper crops all lead to an abundance of food that is often just left to rot in fields and backyards.

Although the non-profit group is known for picking fruit, they also harvest vegetables and nuts.

The tree fruit project organizers are reaching out again this year to anyone with extra vegetables to help reduce wastage and get nutritious food to hungry people in the community.

“A lot of garden and farm produce is needlessly going to waste at this time of year because people don’t have the time or ability to harvest or store it,” said the project’s executive director Casey Hamilton.

“Our volunteers are happy to come out and harvest whatever you can’t use—whether it’s a small backyard plot or a larger market garden—and we’ll go anywhere from Penticton to Lake Country.”

Cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, apples and grapes were picked by some 350 volunteers this season.

Since its start in 2012, the project has picked more than 60,000 pounds of backyard fruit and vegetables throughout the Central and South Okanagan.

Harvested fruit is shared among volunteers and tree/produce owners and donated to the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, Gospel Mission, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club and other charitable groups.

Those donations are then distributed to seniors, children and families and individuals in need, either directly or through educational and recreational programs.

“As Thanksgiving approaches, fall crops such as squash, pumpkin and potatoes are especially appreciated,” said Ailsa Beischer, the Central Okanagan project coordinator.

“We’re looking to continue with this momentum throughout October as colder months can often mean more difficult months for those already struggling to put food on the table.”

For more information, call 778-214-5664 or email okanaganfruittree@gmail.com.