Rene Leclerc of the St. Vincent De Paul Society and Nola Daintith of the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society carry potatoes out to a vehicle so they can give a little extra for their Christmas hampers this year.

Community roots feed neighbours

Conservation Society gifts potatoes, donations

Farm-fresh produce alongside non-perishables will be supplementing Christmas supplies for some needy families this year.

At the Potato House, the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society (CCCS) handed out 400 pounds of potatoes, non perishables donated from the Earth Friendly Holiday event and $100 each to Pregnancy Outreach and the St. Vincent De Paul Society, on Dec. 12, just in time for Christmas

The potatoes stem from the Gleaning Project — a three-year-old program where the Conservation Society partners with local farms at the end of the harvest season to collect leftover fruits and veggies.

In October, the society partnered with Earl Wilson at Silver Birch Farm in Soda Creek, where they were able to dig up and collect 4,000 pounds of potatoes.

“We did the potato pick and we’ve got the root cellar full,” says co-ordinator and sustainable life educator Vanessa Moberg.

Read more: One potato, two potato, three potato, more

The CCTS also fundraised and collected non-perishable goods for their food bank programs through their Earth Friendly Holiday Event held at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre.

CCTS has previously handed out potatoes and other farm-fresh goods to St. Vincent De Paul and to Pregnancy Outreach.

“These two are the main beneficiaries of our potatoes so we thought we would also give them the food and the money,” says Moberg.

St. Vincent De Paul took the potatoes to add to their Christmas Hampers this year. They’re hoping to add five pounds per hamper handed out.

“Our conservation society is saving the planet and helping us feed our neighbours so we couldn’t ask for better,” says Tim Hicks, who helps with the program.

“We’re just so appreciative with what these guys are doing — just helping us with this stuff,” says Rene Leclerc, who is also with St. Vincent De Paul.

They hand out Monday hampers to groups in need.

“We are going to give them a little extra so they can have a dinner and this will be part of it,” he says.

In addition, the group thanks Taylor Made Cakes, Save-on-Foods and Safeway for their weekly contributions to their feeding programs.

Read more: Warm soup fosters sense of community

“Every week they are donating and that is keeping us afloat,” says Hicks.

“Every boost in co-operation and unity, neighbourhood — that just hits right here,” he says gesturing to his heart.

For Pregnancy Outreach, who has taken potatoes in the past, and came away with a box of extra food and a $100 cheque for their food program, the donations and the potatoes improves what they are able to offer.

“Basically, we are just able to hand out fresh produce. We have a food bank at the outreach which relies on donations from the community so it’s really nice to be able to hand out fresh produce with the food hampers so that makes a big difference for our families,” says Barbara Jones, program co-ordinator at the Pregnancy Outreach Program.

In late October, CCTS members sorted through and dried the potatoes, before storing them in a rented space in the root cellar of the Potato House. Since then, local groups have been able to glean what they need from the stored supplies.

Moberg says she is grateful for all the volunteers that have lent a hand to run their events, collect the potatoes and vegetables and even helped build the community root cellar,

“All the volunteers here — and there are many others that actually run the gleaning event and the earth friendly event — they are all volunteers and we couldn’t do it without them.”

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Oliver Berger is in a festive mood as he helps carry potatoes to be donated to the feeding program in the community on Dec. 12.

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