A new initiative could be making its way to Oliver in the form of a food-sharing hut.
That was the idea promoted to Town council on Monday by local resident Julie Forster, a volunteer for Youth With a Mission (Global Gateway).
She introduced the idea based on the Harvest Hut initiative in Enderby, where the motto is: “Share what we have and take what you need.”
Forster said the initiative involves local residents and farmers bringing excess fruits and vegetables to a harvest sharing hut where volunteers receive the food and pass it out to people free of charge.
Forster said volunteers gather basic information from people, such as their age. This data is collected to determine who is using the hut and how many people it serves.
“It’s been a really positive experience for the people of Enderby to be a part of,” she said.
She pointed out that 2,000 people accessed the hut last year, which ended with 3,000 kilograms of food being shared.
Forster said the goals for the hut in Oliver is to increase access to healthy, local food, reduce food waste and build the community.
Anyone can access the food with no stigma attached, although Forster acknowledged that some people feel uncomfortable about it.
She said a person who has grown a garden for years but is no longer able to plant one can take advantage of the hut.
“It’s a simple thing but has a lot of potential to grow into different areas.”
For example, cooking classes, a community garden, plant/seed sharing and a hamper program.
Forster said people can connect with each other to learn about planting and growing techniques.
She pointed out the five basic start-up needs are space, produce, volunteers, supplies and promotion. Some of the supplies needed include a weigh scale, filing cabinet, a shelter, tables and chairs, plastic bags and crates to move produce.
Councillor Aimee Grice asked if the hut is partnered with any grocery stores, but Forster said only residents and farmers are involved at the moment.
Councillor Petra Veintimilla said it’s hard to access local produce in the community, even during the summer months. There are lots of fruit stands outside of town, but many people don’t have access to a vehicle, she pointed out.
“Something like this is an easy win (for everyone),” she noted.
Forster said the Enderby initiative is funded through Fortis and the local credit union.
Oliver council expressed its support of the concept and referred the proposal back to the Food Action Advisory Committee to look at funding opportunities.