Stacks of local fruit that would normally have gone to waste were put to good use, thanks to a local gleaner.
Gleaning is the act of collecting surplus food to share with others and Yvonne Hutchison has been doing it for a very long time.
"I always did because that's the way I was brought up — you always grow more than you needed and share."
Now retired, Hutchinson spent many hours this past summer, rain or shine, collecting fruits from backyard trees in the community, after asking for permission from the owners. She then shared it with the Salvation Army soup kitchen, the food bank, seniors' groups, the lunch programs at Parksville Elementary School and Oceanside Middle School, and the foods program at Ballenas Secondary School. She has also been known to leave at box at the SOS for customers to grab on their way out.
At Ballenas Secondary School, Hutchinson donated a number of boxes of local Comice pears and apples to the foods program, where Monica Bradbury teaches about the benefits of working with local food and sustainability.
"I felt like I hit the jackpot," said Bradbury.
The class learned how to can the fruit and they made apple strudel, jams, jellies, muffins and poached pears with a chocolate glaze.
Grade 11 student Summer Marshall said she doesn't think gleaning is a concept that many people know about or practise, but thinks it's very worthwhile. Classmate Megan Edgeley agreed.
"It keeps money in the community rather than buying it from across the world," she said.
On one of her gleaning outings this summer, Hutchinson collected over 100 pounds of fruit off one pear tree, and it only took her about an hour and a half, she said.
"They are Christmas pears, and they are really quite a delicacy," she said. "You eat them with brie cheese."
Hutchinson gleans fruit from June to October and could use some volunteers next year. Those interested in helping pick food for the community call her at 250-954-0365 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.