Reducing food waste and preserving the harvest is a passion of Abeego’s so we were excited to catch up with LifeCycles to learn more about their gleaning program.
WHAT IS GLEANING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The term ‘gleaning’ refers to the act of harvesting fruit and produce that would otherwise go to waste, with special emphasis on the redistribution of food to those experiencing food insecurity. Millions of pounds of high quality food goes to waste on farm and in backyards each year.
WHAT IS DONE WITH THE COLLECTED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES?
At LifeCycles, we distribute much of the food through the Food Share Network's Food Rescue Project. The project collects surplus food and redistributes it to 60+ community agencies across the Capital Region here on southern Vancouver Island. We also make sure our volunteers receive lots of food, and use about 30% of the total harvest to make value added products, which we sell to raise money to run our programming.
HOW MUCH FOOD IS SAVED BY GLEANING EACH YEAR?
Last year we rescued 14,000 pounds of food from 14 farms and 30,000 pounds of fruit from 220 backyards. That is equivalent to the weight of four large orca, so quite a lot.
WHAT TYPES OF PLACES DO YOU GLEAN? FARMS? URBAN FRUIT TREES?
For 20 years LifeCycles has run the Fruit Tree Project, which connects volunteers interested in picking fruit with homeowners who have an overabundance of fruit on their backyard trees. Four years ago, we expanded our offering to also pick up and harvest surplus produce from farms.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED IN GLEANING IN MY AREA?
Community based food organizations are plugged into opportunities that might exist in your area. Reach out to an organization in your area or search ‘community food’ plus the name of your town or city and call them up!
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN GLEANING?
LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project was born from some local folks noticing there was a lot of fruit going to waste in people's backyards and connecting this with the existing need many people have for high quality fresh produce.
WHAT DOES KEEP FOOD ALIVE MEAN TO YOU?
Working to change our food system so that it is more equitable, healthy and sustaining for all.
Learn more about LifeCycles and the services they offer, including building communities, reducing food waste, creating a seed library, farm gleaning, and a community food program moving toward a zero waste future at their website and follow them on Facebook.