Okanagan Gleaners continue their passion

Okanagan Gleaners continue their passion

0
SHARE

Step into the warmth and bustle of the Okanagan Gleaners’ building, and the first thing you will notice is the smell.
It is a hearty, healthy odour, created by the wide variety of dried produce that the Gleaners use to make the dry soup mix which they send to people in need all over the world.
Founded in 1994 by a handful of people in the South Okanagan, there are now at least eight similar organizations operating across Canada.
“The really amazing thing about this,” said Okanagan Gleaners Society director Jane Marcelet, “is that it’s a volunteer organization, all of the produce is donated; we buy salt, and we occasionally pay freight for produce that comes in. All of this stuff that’s in these bags would have been in a landfill somewhere. We don’t take garbage, it is good food, but it’s either too big or too small, and for whatever reason would have been discarded.”
“It’s a really good soup mix this year,” said society president Rod Freeman. “The first few years were low production, everything was cut by hand; now we chop it with a dicer, which is very fast, and we can take a whole bin full and dice it in seconds. We have been working all year, packing the dry vegetables into barrels, each barrel has a unique vegetable, whether it’s beets or peas or whatever, and now we are mixing it. That’s what the production line is all about. Everyone has a scoop, and we mix.”
Marcelet explained the line is set up as a mixing station so you can see the different barrels – onions, beets, carrots, peas, etc. A thousand buckets an hour come off the line, get dumped into bags, and they’re sealed. Then they start packing them into big barrels, about 80 barrels a day. Every barrel holds 70 bags, and every bag has 100 servings. Last year they mixed nearly seven million servings.
The average age of the volunteers is 70 plus, Marcelet said, but they do get a lot of younger people in the summer who come and stay in the RV accommodations they offer to youth groups and other organizations.
“We are not affiliated with any particular church or denomination, typically it’s a seniors group, but we do have younger people. Love to have you come when you can, stay as long as you can,” she encouraged, “there is something for everybody to do here.”
If you are interested in helping the Okanagan Gleaners, you can visit the building on Road 3 between 9 am and 3 pm from Tuesday to Saturday, or call 250-498-8859.

LEAVE A REPLY