Community Harvest

In a Nutshell

Over 167,000 lbs grown this year!

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 2021, the program provided a total 198,462 lbs of fresh produce!

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 our produce and our neighbours in need.

Dear Farm Volunteers,

I would be remiss if I did not specifically acknowledge the generosity and dedication of the 864 volunteers who supported our Community Harvest farm this past season. Despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by the COVID 19 pandemic, with your help, we were able achieve our best year yet.

On behalf of the farm team and the broader community we serve, thank you so much!

Jason Gray — Community Harvest Manager

2021 Yield Summary

Collection Mode Sources Total (lbs.) % Change — 2020 to 2021
Donations Local Farms 19,166 -35
Gleaning Local Farms 10,793 N/A: 0 in 2020
Growing Community Harvest Farm 167,605 +37
Purchases Local Farms — Wholesale and/or discount pricing 898 -85
Totals 198,462 +26

Adopt A Crop Program

Find out how you and your group or organization can get involved and contribute to the 2022 Community Harvest season through our new Adopt A Crop program.

Learn more about the Community Harvest Program.

A Look at our Farm

Growing FRESH Food in our City

Photo Gallery

Take a closer look at the Community Harvest Program in action!

Full 2021 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 our volunteers – ranging from individuals to corporate teams, and students to community organizations – who provide more than 5,000 hours of manual labour every season, this program could never have evolved so quickly.

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: Foster Family Farm, Rochon Gardens, Kieran Lightfoot, Strathmere, Hudson’s Farm Fresh and Orleans Fruit Farm. In total, these local farms donated over 19,000 lbs of produce in 2021.

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 2021, with the help of volunteers, we were able to glean over 10,000 pounds of produce. Thank you to the following farms for their continued support of our gleaning program this past year: Hudson’s Farm Fresh and Rochon Gardens.

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 seven-acre site at Black Family Farm.

We grow fruit and vegetables on approximately six acres and the remaining the land is devoted to cover crops. In 2021, our farm yielded 167,605 pounds of fruit and vegetables.

Our farm management involves production methods based on principles of ecological agriculture. We manage soil quality with applications of composted cattle manure (produced on-farm), biological inoculants, crop rotation, diverse cover crops and the judicious use of fertilizers and heavy equipment. We employ efficient irrigation systems and use biodegradable mulches, 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 biopesticides permitted in organic agriculture. We strive to continuously increase the biological diversity in and around our field.

One of the most recent and exciting developments on the farm has been the addition of new crops. In 2021, we began harvesting a modest amount of garlic and sweet potatoes (see graph above). These crops are part of an ongoing effort by the Ottawa Food Bank to address gaps in the distribution of ethnocultural foods, as identified by both our member agencies and their clients. This feedback will continue to drive our farm output, the newly created Global Marketplace Program, and our food procurement decisions. This coming season, we’re excited to be adding okra to the farm’s mix as well as increasing our garlic production and reintroducing eggplants.

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

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 are very grateful for the financial support we have received over the years from the individuals, businesses and organizations listed below:

  • Black Family Farm
  • Carrot Cache Community Resources Inc.
  • Cisco
  • Community Foundation of Ottawa
  • Central Canada Exhibition Association
  • Dr. Deborah Zimmerman
  • Evenchick brothers
  • Food Banks Canada
  • Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
  • Harold Crabtree Foundation
  • HEXO Corp
  • IBM
  • i-Sight
  • Johnson Controls
  • LeaCross Foundation
  • 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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