OTTAWA FOOD BANK

Community Harvest

In a Nutshell

The Community Harvest Program grows and collects nutritious, local produce for clients served by Ottawa Food Bank member agencies across the national capital region. In 2013, the program distributed a total 120,071 lbs of fresh produce!

Who builds “Community” into the Community Harvest Program?

It’s generous local farmers, volunteers and funders that enable this program, for whom we are profoundly grateful.  It’s also our admirable member agencies (e.g. Meal programs, community food banks, shelters, etc.) who provide the final linkage between the produce and our neighbours in need.

2013 Program Summary

Growing

One of the most exciting and distinctive aspects of the Community Harvest initiative is the growing of our own crops expressly for donation.

Since the inception of the Community Harvest program in 2010, local farms have kindly provided land for the growing of “food bank crops”.  From an initial pilot project involving the production of a half- acre of organic carrots at Roots and Shoots Farm, our growing program has evolved to yield a wide range of produce at our new, four-acre site at Black Family Farm (see graph below). In 2013, the Black Farm growing project yielded 53,561 pounds of fruit and vegetables (a 257% increase over 2012).

CH 2012

Our farm management involves production methods based on principles of ecological agriculture. We manage soil quality with applications of composted sheep manure (produced on-farm), crop rotation, cover cropping and minimize the use of heavy equipment. We employ efficient irrigation systems and use biodegrable mulch, when needed.  Although the site is not certified organic, we refrain from using synthetic pesticides or fungicides for pest management. Similarly, herbicides are not used; all weeding is done mechanically and/or manually. Crop protection from insect pests is achieved using row netting.

We are very grateful to the Black Family who not only offer us the use of four acres of their land, but also their time and farm equipment as well.  We also want to thank Rideau Nursery for their ongoing support of our growing project. This year the nursery donated hundreds of vegetable seedlings in support of the project, accounting for a large percentage of the tomato crop and a new herb garden.

Volunteers are at the heart of our growing project and we are infinitely grateful for their ongoing support.  Without the tireless support of 489 volunteers, who provided a total of 1,544 hours of manual labour this year, this growing project could never have evolved so quickly.

 

Giving

The donation of produce by farmers and home gardeners is also a significant part of the CH program.  Many thanks to the following farms who have generously donated their excess produce this year: Gerry and Diane Rochon Gardens, Foster Family Farm, Mr. John Krapiec, Ms. Erin Krekoski, Pinewood Orchards, Orleans Fruit Farm, Osgoode Apple Orchard, Proulx Sugarbush and Berry Farm, Rideau Pines Farm, Roots and Shoots Farm, and Shouldice Farms Inc.  In total, local farms and gardeners donated over 33,023 pounds (170% above 2012) of fresh produce this year!

We would also like to thank the Ottawa Farmers’ Market for enabling a closer relationship between market vendors and the Ottawa Food Bank.  This year, 10,880 pounds of market produce (incl. baked goods) was donated to the Ottawa Food Bank.  Many thanks to the following businesses for their generous donations throughout the market season; Acorn Creek Garden Farm, Avonmore Berry Farm, Bergeron Gardens and Greenhouses, Diane and Gerry and Rochon Gardens Inc., Hall’s Apple Orchard, Hoople Creek Farm, Ingleside Tomatoes, Just Farms, Kiwan Farm, Limeydale Farm, Linda Bergeron, Luxy Farm, Needham’s Market Garden, Root Down Organic Farm, Roots and Shoots Farm, Savoury Pursuits, Waratah Downs, Torrie Warner’s Farm.

Gleaning

Another way that we acquire fresh produce is through gleaning crops on local farms.  In the traditional sense of the word, “Gleaning”, is the age-old practice of collecting crops that remain in the field following a farmer’s commercial harvest.  The most common gleaning scenario for the Community Harvest program, however, is the harvesting of excess crops that will not be commercially harvested and therefore we yield a very high quality product.

Thanks to the 20 volunteers who gleaned and packed freshly picked food in 2012, we were able to glean over 7,246 pounds of vegetables.

Thank you to the following farms for their tremendous support of our gleaning program in 2013: Foster Family Farm, Proulx Sugarbush and Berry Farm, and Needham’s Market Garden.

2013 Yield Summary

Collection Mode Sources Total (lbs.) % change (2012 to 2013)
Donations Local Farms – Farm Gate 33,023 +170
Ottawa Farmers’ Market Vendors 10,880 -11
Gleaning Local Farms 7,246 -57
Growing Project Black Family Farm 53,561 +257
Purchases Local Farms – Farm Gate 5,388 +25
Ottawa Farmers’ Market Vendors 9,973 -5
Total* 120,071 +80

*as of December 1, 2013

2013 Annual Report

If you wish to receive a Community Harvest annual report from any of the past three seasons, please contact Jason Gray, Community Harvest Coordinator.

Please Consider Supporting the Community Harvest Program

During the growing season, we’re always on the lookout for dedicated volunteers to help out around the farm.  We also welcome monetary and equipment donations to help make our program more efficient, and to expedite program expansion.

Community Harvest Funders

We thank our donors and foundation funders who have supported the Community Harvest program at some point during the past four years:

  • The Trillium Foundation
  • The Metcalf Foundation
  • The Friends of Greenbelt Foundation
  • The City of Ottawa
  • The Community Foundation of Ottawa
  • Dr. Deborah Zimmerman
  • Dr. Jolanta Karpinski
  • Carrot Cache Community Resources Inc.
  • Crabtree Foundation

A look at the benefits of Gleaning: