Sharing the harvest

Credit: Jupiter Images


“Often food banks carry non-perishable vegetables that do not contain the same quality of nutrients as a freshly picked apple,” says Colleen Matte. She runs Harvest Rescue in her hometown of Nelson, which coordinates volunteers to gather fruits and vegetables that would otherwise become compost or bear bait. Homeowners keep some of the pickings, while the remainder fills the community Food Cupboard. “Having fresh produce available for those in need really impacts their well being.”

Arzeena Hamir agrees. She is passionate about the Richmond Fruit Tree project, which over the past seven years has “rescued” 110,000 pounds of fruit for people living with poverty. In fact, her group “wanted to do more,” and took on six allotment gardens to grow vegetables. “Food banks primarily provide dried and canned goods, with carrots, potatoes and onions as the only fresh produce, so we try to grow nutritious leafy greens like Swiss chard and kale.”

The Richmond Fruit Tree project has been so successful that the city has donated land for more garden space. One acre is now being planted as a community apple orchard to combat a recent decline in tree-fruit donations – most likely due to a loss of fruit trees as older homes are replaced with high-density housing, says Arzeena. “Plus, no one is planting fruit trees anymore.” A joint effort with Kwantlen University College’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture, the orchard will serve as a place for the community to come together and learn the art of growing food.

In Victoria, where many women report that they go without fruits and vegetables and are unable to properly feed their children, the LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project team has transformed backyard trees into a valuable source of food for the community. As much as 35,000 pounds of produce is gathered every summer, says Renate Nahser-Ringer. “We share the fruit we pick between the volunteer pickers, homeowners, food banks and community agencies and the project. People love our project – it is a win-win-win-win!”

If you can share your harvest of fruit or vegetables, you’ll be making a big difference to people in need.


Harvest Rescue
201-182 Baker St.
250-352-6011 ext. 17

Edible Garden Project
225 East 2nd Ave.
North Vancouver
Heather Johnstone
Project Coordinator
P: 604-987-8138 X 209

The Richmond Fruit Tree Project
7 – 13400 Princess St.

Summerland Fruit Tree Project
Box 988 9117 Prairie Valley Rd.

The Vancouver Fruit Tree Project
2-261 E. 17th Ave.

LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project
521 Superior St.

For details in your community:
Find Plant A Row, Grow a Row programs in all these BC communities, as well as throughout Canada and the United States:

  • Bella Coola
  • Campbell River
  • Castlegar
  • Chilliwack
  • Comox Strathcona
  • Gabriola Island
  • Grand Forks
  • Kamloops
  • Kelowna
  • Nelson (Nelson Food Cupboard)
  • New Westminster
  • Revelstoke
  • Richmond
  • Sicamous
  • Summerland
  • Surrey
  • Vancouver