Each year the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society (CCCS) partners with local farms to harvest excess veggies to be donated to local food banks. The gleaning program, now in its fifth year, has been hugely supported by the CCCS Board of Directors. The majority of planting and maintaining the potato patch was carried out by President Bill Lloyd, and Vice President Rodger Hamilton.
Located at Silver Birch Ranch in Soda Creek, the plot of soil for planting is provided by Earl Wilson. Not only does Earl provide the space for this program, he also lends his time and farm equipment to prep the patch, plant the spuds, weed, and harvest.
With a pandemic upon us, food security was top of mind and an increased number of folks were trying their hand at a home garden. Seed potatoes were in high demand and it was tough to find enough to plant. Beaver Valley Feeds generously donated 150 pounds of seed potatoes and we were able to source a few more pounds to get a decent field of taters in the ground.
“Gleaning certainly presented us with challenges this year, both COVID and climate related,” says CCCS President Bill Lloyd, “but we managed to persevere. We would like to thank Earl Wilson of Silver Birch Ranch for making our gleaning program possible.”
CCCS Board members continued to tend to the field throughout the summer months and by fall were preparing to dig them up. Despite questionable weather, the gleaning team headed to Silver Birch Farm on October 1 to dig up the tasty taters, get them dried and prepped for distribution. This year’s team included Earl Wilson, CCCS Chair Bill Lloyd, Directors Rodger Hamilton, Rick Dawson, and Martin Kruus, and 25 of Martin’s grade 7 outdoor education students.
The weather didn’t cooperate, but the kids worked hard and moved roughly 600 pounds of potatoes from the field to the trailer in a matter of hours. Feedback from the students included “I have never picked potatoes before so it was a challenge, but it was fun,” and “It was a good workout, I had fun playing in the dirt and felt very useful.”
CCCS may not have gleaned as many pounds of potatoes as we have in previous years but we feel it is important to continue this worthwhile program.
Amber Gregg is the sustainable life education co-ordinator with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.