Our first produce gleaning event took shape back in late July when I began calling local farmers to promote the Community Harvest Ontario program. After having spoken to only three growers, I had already been presented with two offers to glean produce; raspberries at Rideau Pines Farm and sweet corn at Ovens Berry Farm. The only catch to accessing this produce was the short timeline required as both the raspberries and the corn were ripening fast. Following my initial call to John Vandenberg of Rideau Pines Farm, it was determined that a harvesting window of only a couple days remained before the raspberries would be overripe. With the very warm, dry spring and an extremely hot summer this year the crops had matured 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule. A volunteer group needed to be assembled very fast.
Two days later Lindsay Irvine, the OFB Volunteer Coordinator and I had managed to assemble the first ever Ottawa Food Bank - Community Harvest Ontario volunteer gleaning group.
|Some of the volunteer raspberry gleaners at Rideau Pines Farm 22/07/10 (left to right: Lynn and her three kids, Harold, Martin and Gerry)|
|Raspberry pickin' 22/07/10|
The gleaning event garnered a lot of media attention. Steve Fischer, a CBC Ottawa video journalist, came out to the farm and filed a report for the local evening news. Similarly, Alan Neal, the host of "All in a Day" on CBC Radio Ottawa interviewed me live during the event.
As we hardly seemed to make a dent in the field that Thursday afternoon, the Vandenbergs generously offered us another round in the field the following day. And so we did...and with even more volunteers.
That Friday and additional 14 volunteers entered the raspberry rows and quickly gleaned another 200 lb of fruit.
On behalf of the Ottawa Food Bank, our member agencies and the clients that received the fruits of your labour, a big thank you goes out to Rideau Pines Farm, the volunteer gleaners and to CBC for taking an interest in the Community Harvest Ontario program. We wish the Vandenberg family a prosperous end to the growing season.
|Some of the volunteer gleaning group on Friday morning 23/07/10|
My next post will recount the corn gleaning event at Ovens Berry Farm that occured the following day, Saturday, July 24th, 2010.