Harvest Season: Collecting a fall feast for those who need it most

Harvest Season: Collecting a fall feast for those who need it most
WatchIt's harvest season on Vancouver Island and fall's bounty is being collected for those who need it most. Tess van Straaten reports.

Driving onto a small farm tucked off Central Saanich Road, a van from Our Place arrives to pick up one of the last harvests of the season.

“We all love coming out,” says Our Place food services supervisor Brian Cox, whose worked at the shelter for 30 years. “It’s a nice escape from the kitchen so we quite often fight to see who gets to come from the farm.”

Much of the bounty he’s come to box up — from garlic stalks and freshly-picked carrots to colourful squash and lots of leeks — will be served up as part of Our Place’s annual Thanksgiving feast.

“We tend to go through 300 to 400 pounds of veggies, 500 pounds of potatoes and 60 to 80 turkeys,” Cox explains. “We have some beautiful garlic and onions and leeks, which will go in our stuffing.”

All the food grown at the Farmlands Trust goes to Our Place, which relies on donations for 50 per cent of the food it serves the homeless and those in need.

“For the people that are receiving the food it makes a huge difference,” Farmlands Trust farm manager Bert James says. “They’re getting fresh organic vegetables on a weekly basis throughout the growing seasons.”

Every year, 15,000 to 18,000 pounds of high-quality produce like these carrots is harvested and it wouldn’t be possible without a dedicated group of volunteers.

Many come weekly to weed and plant and harvest.

And as part of Stantec in the community week, volunteers are out to winterize the water lines.

“We took all the irrigation lines that were installed for the summer, we picked them up and eight of us walked them down and winterized them so they’re all stored for the summer,” explains volunteer Laura Trudell of Stantec.

The volunteers will put the lines back in the spring — just in time for the busy summer growing season at this farm dedicated to giving back.

“I think it’s a great thing because obviously people have problems and any time we having a chance to giving a helping hand and move them forward and give them help it’s a good thing,” James says.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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