Established in 2013, the Gleaning Abundance Program (GAP) has operated in Kamloops for over 8 years. Over this time it has grown and expanded its reach, but has always remained as an essential service provided by the Kamloops Food Policy Council to our city.
The GAP gathers people across our region to help fruit tree owners and farmers harvest their overabundance of fruit and vegetables. Participants of the program keep 1/3 of the pick, volunteers receive the other 1/3 in exchange for their help, and local community organizations serving Kamloops most vulnerable and food insecure populations receive the other 1/3 to use in their food programming. Since the program’s inception, we have gleaned over 140,000 lbs of fruit and vegetables! Over half of that amount has been donated and shared across our city.
Beyond feeding our community, the GAP helps build local capacity and create key connections. Through engagement of fruit-tree owners, farmers, and volunteers our program brings together a mix of people to create inter-generational and inter-cultural connections between children, adult, and seniors. While gleaning, people often share their knowledge about food processing. This informal knowledge transfer also includes the exchange of some delicious recipes!
As the GAP program has grown into a well-established service, we have been called on by educators to offer gleaning opportunities to students and youth groups. We have found that some of our younger generation lack the knowledge of our local food system. With questions around where our food comes from or how it is grown. By including youth in the program, we seeks to support food literacy in Kamloops and help inspire food action in our young cohort!
While our program’s quantitative measures of success are easy to share, the friendships and social connections are just as important to highlight. Acting as a “mobile community hub”, the GAP provides a venue for members to meet like-minded people and forge close connections. During these past two years, the pandemic has put a lot of stress on our lives. Our program has been a relief for participants. Through safety measures, the GAP allows people to have a safe outdoor activity to maintain the essential human connection that we are all longing for and need.
Fruit Trees are one of the most important pillars of the GAP. Climate change and lack of maintenance has put a lot of pressure on many fruit trees in our city. A healthy fruit tree produces an abundant amount of quality fruit that can be gleaned and shared. Knowing this, we have been working on educating fruit tree owners and producers on mitigating the effects of climate change. This fall, we hosted a free online and in-person workshop on climate change resiliency and integrated pest management for local producers. We are also seeking new ways to educate and motivate tree-owners to care for their fruit trees and develop the skills needed for proper maintenance.
The KFPC is also planning to establish a new pruning program in 2022. This new component of the GAP will allow tree owners to register their trees, while the KFPC maintains and gleans them over a few years. Fruit trees can be a lot of work, but this new program helps us share the burden and the reward of bountiful, healthy trees!
Many tree owners in the city that participated in our program have sold their properties. We are currently trying to reach more people to invite them to participate in our GAP. Increasing our program’s capacity helps us make the most of our local food resources.
Whether you’ve participated in the program or this is the first time you’re hearing about it, we hope you’ll find great joy in knowing this programming of community food action exists in Kamloops.
If you are interested to register your tree or become one of our volunteers, please sign up on our webpage: kamloopsfoodpolicycouncil.com/gleaningabundance/