KEEPING THINGS FRESH.
The Community Harvest Ontario Program is an initiative of the Ontario Association of Food Banks to provide fresh, nutritious, and local produce to food banks across the province.
At the Ottawa Food Bank, it’s the generous support of local farmers and volunteers that enables our Community Harvest program and provides fresh produce to our neighbours in need.
One of the most exciting parts of our Community Harvest initiative is growing and harvesting our own crops.
In 2012, the Community Harvest Program substantially increased both the acreage under production as well as the diversity of crops grown. This expansion was made possible by the generosity of the Black Family who not only offered the use of 2.5 acres of land at their farm, but also their time and farming equipment as well. We are also very grateful to Peter Stanton (proprietor of Stanton Drilling) for donating the time and resources required to drill our irrigation well and install the pump within. We also want to thank Roost and Shoots Farm for resuming a growing project for a third consecutive year. The combined Community Harvest acreage between these two farms doubled the size of our farm projects compared to year prior (1.5 acres in 2011 to 3 acres in 2012).
Despite the challenges brought on by the most severe drought in 60 years in the Ottawa region this year, the combined yield from our growing projects exceeded 15,000 lbs (+83%). The Black Farm growing project, alone, yielded 13,836 pounds of produce including new crops such as beets, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, winter squash.
For a second consecutive year the Junior High class of the Ottawa Montessori School Montessori planted and harvested at Roots and Shoots Farm. This year’s garden resulted in 244 lbs (+22%) of beets, eggplants, peppers, swiss chard and tomatoes for the Ottawa Food Bank. Thank you Montessori students! Thank you as well to Rideau Nursery for starting our cabbage and broccoli seedlings which enabled an early start to the growing season at the Tom Black Farm.
Volunteers are at the heart of our growing projects and we are infinitely grateful for their ongoing support. Without the tireless support of 259 volunteers, providing a total of 1018 hours of manual labour, these growing projects could not have taken place this year.
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 process more efficient, and to expedite program expansion.
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, while still in good condition, 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 crops that will not be commercially harvested and therefore we yield a very high quality product.
Thanks to the 37 volunteers who gleaned and packed freshly picked food in 2012, we were able to glean over 16,700 pounds of vegetables.
Thank you to the following farms for their tremendous support of our gleaning program in 2012: Chelsea Gadens, Foster Family Farm, Herweryer’s Gardens, Ms Erin Krekowski , and Proulx Sugarbush and Berry Farm.
The donation of produce by farmers and home gardeners is also a significant part of the CHO program. Many thanks to the following farms who have generously donated their excess produce this year: Foster Family Farm, Heritage Academy Potato Project, Gerry and Diane Rochon Gardens, Ms. Erin Krekoski, and Mr. John Krapiec. In 2012, local farms donated over 12,200 lbs of fresh produce!
We would also like to thank the Ottawa Farmers’ Market for enabling a closer relationship between market vendors and the Ottawa Food Bank. In 2012, over 12,000 lbs of fresh market produce (and some baked goods) were donated to the Ottawa Food Bank. Many thanks to the following farms and 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, Farm True Food Ecosterre, Hall’s Apple Orchard, Hoople Creek Farm, Ingleside Tomatoes, Jambican Studio Garden, Jaquemet Gardens, Just Farms, Kiwan Farm, Limeydale Farm, Linda Bergeron, McGregor’s Produce, Needham’s Market Garden, Rainbow Heritage Gardens, Root Down Organic Farm, Roots and Shoots Farm, Savoury Persuits, Waratah Downs, Torrie Warner’s Farm.
2012 Yield Summary
|Collection Mode||Sources||Total (lbs.)|
|Giving||Local Farms and Ottawa’s Farmers Market Vendors||24,407|
*as of November 19, 2012
A look at the benefits of Gleaning:
To learn more about Community Harvest or to volunteer, call Jason at 613-745-7001 or click here to email him. By adding your contact info to Jason's listserve, you will receive volunteer opportunity updates throughout the gleaning and growing season.