Community Harvest

In a Nutshell

The Community Harvest Program grows and collects nutritious, local produce for clients served by Ottawa Food Bank member agencies across the national capital region. In 2016, the program distributed a total 138,641 lbs of fresh produce! Over 90,000 lbs of which we grew ourselves!

Who builds “Community” into the Community Harvest Program?

It’s generous local farmers, volunteers and funders that enable this program, for whom we are profoundly grateful.  It’s also our admirable member agencies (e.g. Meal programs, community food banks, shelters, etc.) who provide the final linkage between the produce and our neighbours in need.

2016Yield Summary

Collection Mode Sources Total (lbs.) % change
Donations Local Farms 29,098 -45
Donations  Ottawa Farmers’ Market 14,934 n/a
Growing Project
Black Family Farm 90,284 -11
Purchases Local Farms 4,325 +94
Total 138,641 -13

Growing FRESH Food in our City

Full 2016 Program Summary

Volunteers

Volunteers are at the heart of the Community Harvest program and we are infinitely grateful for their ongoing support.  Without the tireless support of over 650 volunteers – ranging from individuals to corporate teams, and students to community organizations – who provide more than 2,500 hours of manual labour every season, this program could never have evolved so quickly.

Growing

One of the most exciting and distinctive aspects of the Community Harvest initiative is the growing of our own crops expressly for donation.

Since the inception of the Community Harvest program in 2010, local farms have kindly provided land for the growing of “food bank crops”. From an initial pilot project involving the production of organic carrots and potatoes at Roots and Shoots Farm, our farming program has since evolved to yield a wide range of produce at our new, seven-acre site at Black Family Farm. In 2016, our Black Farm Growing Project yielded 90,284 pounds of fruit and vegetables. Although our 2016 yield was slightly lower than that of 2015 (-11%), the drop was on par with many local farms who experienced a drought for much of the season.

 

2016 Community Harvest Ottawa Food Bank fresh grow farm

Our farm management involves production methods based on principles of ecological agriculture. We manage soil quality with applications of composted sheep and cattle manure (produced on-farm), crop rotation, cover cropping and minimize the use of heavy equipment. We employ efficient irrigation systems and use biodegrable mulch, when needed.  Although the site is not certified organic, we refrain from using synthetic pesticides or fungicides for pest management. Similarly, herbicides are not used; all weeding is done mechanically and/or manually. Crop protection from insect pests is achieved using netting as barriers and/or products permitted in organic agriculture.

We are very grateful to the Black Family who not only offer us the use of six acres of their land, but also their time and farming equipment as well.

Giving

The donation of produce by farmers and home gardeners is also a significant part of the CH program.  Many thanks to the following farms who have generously donated their excess produce this year: Jardin Rochon Gardens, Foster Family Farm, Pinewood Orchards, Orleans Fruit Farm, Osgoode Apple Orchard, Panmure Farms (aka Hudson’s Farm Fresh Produce), Proulx Sugarbush and Berry Farm, Shouldice Farms Inc, and Strathmere. In total, local farms and gardeners donated over 29,000 lbs of produce in 2016.

Thanks to the ongoing support of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park as well as Jeremy Foss, our newest member of Community Harvest team, and the volunteers who assisted him, we successfully resumed our market donation retrieval during the 2016 season. We would like thank all the vendors who generously provided donations: Acorn Creek Garden Farm, Avonmore Berry Farm, Bergeron Gardens and Greenhouses, Guy Bergeron Gardening, Jardin Rochon Gardens, Hall’s Apple Orchard, Hoople Creek Farm, Ingleside Tomatoes, Just Farms, Kiwan Farm, Limeydale Farm, Linda’s Garden, Luxy Farm, Needham’s Market Garden, Roots Down Organic Farm, Roots and Shoots Farm, Savoury Pursuits, Waratah Downs, and Warner’s Farm. Ottawa Farmers’ Market vendors donated 14,934 pounds of fresh produce.

Gleaning

Another way that we acquire fresh produce is through gleaning crops on local farms.  In the traditional sense of the word, “Gleaning”, is the age-old practice of collecting crops that remain in the field following a farmer’s commercial harvest.  The most common gleaning scenario for the Community Harvest program, however, is the harvesting of excess crops that will not be commercially harvested and therefore we yield a very high quality product.

In 2016, we did not receive any opportunities to glean produce, likely the result of a relatively difficult growing season in the Ottawa region. We wish all local growers a bountiful harvest in 2017.

Please Consider Supporting the Community Harvest Program

During the growing season, we’re always on the lookout for dedicated volunteers to help out around the farm.  We also welcome monetary and equipment donations to help make our program more efficient, and to expedite program expansion.

Community Harvest Funders

We thank our supporters, donors, and foundation funders who have supported the Community Harvest program at some point during the past four years:

  • Black Family Farm
  • Carrot Cache Community Resources Inc.
  • Cisco
  • Community Foundation of Ottawa
  • Dr. Deborah Zimmerman
  • Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
  • Harold Crabtree Foundation
  • IBM
  • i-Sight
  • Johnson Controls
  • Metcalf Foundation
  • Ms. Maya-Ruth Kropp-Lazar
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • Ottawa Veg Fest
  • RIM
  • RBC
  • Stantec
  • Stanton Drilling Inc.
  • Students at Glebe Collegiate Institue
  • TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
  • Telus
  • The City of Ottawa
  • The Gocan Family
  • The Home Depot (Kanata)
  • Thomas Cavanagh Construction Ltd.

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