While 2015 wasn’t such a great year for gleaning due to the dry weather, 2016 is ripe for some picking, says Nanaimo Community Gardens Society.
The program, started in 2003, sees volunteers from the society heading to gather excess fruit or produce from gardens, trees and yards and Lee Sanmiya, society gleaning coordinator, said the rain that Nanaimo has received so far has been good for business.
“It’s an amazing fruit year, said Sanmiya. “Last year, we had quite a bit of sun, but we didn’t have enough rain early in the season, so we didn’t get some of the later maturing apples and pears. This year it looks like we might get those and we’re about at least three weeks early for fruit,” said Sanmiya.
She said the numbers are great in terms of picks conducted – 36 so far– and the number of gleaners, which is more than 100.
There are enough volunteers, said Sanmiya, but the society is seeking areas and trees that need picking – there is a need for Asian pears, figs and grapes. With Nanaimo taking on Syrian refugees earlier in the year, Sanmiya said there are also items that they can use.
“If anyone has grapevines and they don’t mind the grape leaves being harvested, I can put someone from the multicultural centre in touch with them and they can have some of Syrian refugee families come and pick them,” said Sanmiya. “The grape leaves are what they harvest.”
Sanmiya said gleaners are able to keep some of the produce collected. Approximately one-third goes to the society, which disperses it to daycares, retirement communities and charitable organizations, Nanaimo FoodShare, which runs the gleaning program with the society, and Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank.
“It’s a really great year and we hope that people are using all the fruit and if they can’t possibly, then they should call us,” said Sanmiya.
For more information, please call 250-816-4769 or go to www.nanaimocommunitygardens.ca.