A GARDENER'S DIARY: Help support the Gleaners

I appreciate the days getting longer at this time of the year. Sure March can always reserve us a few surprises but it is nice to see blue in the sky so early and lasting much later. The seeds for this year are appearing in the stores with all the supplies needed for a fruitful year. I will start pruning the fruit trees in the next week as weather permits.

At our last garden club meeting, we had Gordon Huston, general manager of North Okanagan Gleaners. It made for a very interesting evening, and I would like to share something about them. There is a lot to learn about this organization and you can find more by going to

The North Okanagan Valley Gleaners Society was created in the summer of 2007 by a group of individuals who had become acutely aware of the problem of world hunger and the fact that the Okanagan valley is rich in food supplies. Much of our local food production, unfortunately, goes to waste. The desire to make use of these gleanings to feed the hungry in other countries convinced them to do something.

The Gleaners plant deals primarily in large quantities (995,000 lbs in 2013) but they are quite happy to add in the fall overflow from local gardens, those unripe tomatoes especially. Apples and pears are the fruits they can process, however supplying pickers can be a problem. Unfortunately squashes do not rehydrate well so they and hot peppers are on the no-no list, but give them a call at the plant at 558-5872 for any questions. They would be happy to give a quick tour during the morning operations to anyone who is interested in the beautiful drive up to 973 Whitevale Rd. and of course volunteers for the morning production are always welcomed. All of the gleaned veggies produced a record of more than five million servings of soup which will go out this year into the Third World. The North Okanagan can be proud of the effort made by local volunteers in being part of the solution to world hunger.

Once per year stock is taken and a soup mix recipe is created from the ingredients on hand. The mix is packaged in 100-serving sealed bags, then packed into boxes or drums ready for shipping. Apples are also dehydrated, packaged and shipped as nutritious snacks.

Volunteers arrive daily (Monday through Friday mornings) to help with the cleaning, chopping and preparation of the produce for the dehydration, as well as packaging the final product. These volunteers may be seniors, members of local churches, groups from schools and clubs, or individuals and families from the local communities. At the processing plant, volunteers arrive for 8 a.m. (some even before!) and set to work cutting vegetables, washing and cleaning equipment, filling or emptying the dryers, and other tasks. No appointment or advance notice is can just show up! The managers — Harold or Gord — will help you fit in at a task that suits you. By 11:30 a.m. they are usually cleaning up and you are on your way by noon. Groups are welcome and they’ll do their best to accommodate your availability. Please call the plant or e-mail

The 20th Annual Seed Swap and Natural Living Fair will be March 1, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Enderby, at A.L. Fortune school, 500 Bass Ave. Admission is by donation. This year’s event honours June Griswold, pioneer and seedsaver. There will be a free seed swap table, and more than 50 vendors. I will be there with my seeds.

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast, member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club and The Morning Star's gardening columnist, appearing every other Wednesday.

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