Amanda Smith of LEPS checks out apples on a tree at Campbell Valley Regional Park in South Langley on June 15, 2020. LEPS’ gleaning program will harvest unwanted fruit in parks and back yards this summer and fall. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Amanda Smith of LEPS checks out apples on a tree at Campbell Valley Regional Park in South Langley on June 15, 2020. LEPS’ gleaning program will harvest unwanted fruit in parks and back yards this summer and fall. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Donors needed for Langley harvest to benefit food banks

Volunteers are ready to pick back yard fruit, but need more trees

Dozens of volunteers are ready to scale ladders and harvest fruit to benefit local food banks again this year – but the pandemic has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into a decade-old program.

The Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) Gleaning Program will be starting up again this summer and early fall, with an aim of putting to use fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.

The program has required changes, said organizer Amanda Smith, the agricultural program coordinator for LEPS.

“There’s going to be less volunteers per tree,” said Smith.

Everyone will have to bring their own gloves, and must cancel if they feel ill at all.

“The picks will end up being a little bit longer,” she said.

Due to the pandemic, physical distancing means that there will only be one person per tree when harvesting backyard fruit.

But the volunteers for the program are ready to go back and harvest. However, they’re facing a bit of a shortage of donors this year.

The gleaning program is simple – those with excess fruits, or sometimes even garden vegetables, can contact LEPS, and volunteers will come out to harvest the trees.

Up to one third of the harvest goes to the homeowner, up to one third to the volunteer pickers, and everything else goes to local food banks and the Gateway of Hope homeless shelter.

This year, the owners of some previous picking sites have indicated they’ll be keeping their fruit. It seems to be a side effect of COVID-19.

Whether it’s for financial reasons, or because people are becoming more interested in home canning and pie making, there are fewer fruit trees for LEPS to harvest.

That’s why the gleaning program is reaching out and asking for more donors.

“The need is still there,” said Smith.

Anyone interested in volunteering their fruit trees for a harvest can contact Smith at 604-825-0409.

For a volunteer effort, the annual gleaning harvest produces thousands of pounds of fruit. Langley is dotted with apple, pear, and plum trees, whether planted as part of recent housing developments, or dating back decades to when family farms dominated much of the community’s landscape.

In 2019, there was an extremely challenging spring, with cold weather in January and February, Smith recalled. It seriously affected the local apple harvest.

Then rain in June caused mold and fungus to hit some local cherry trees.

But the plum crop was still excellent.

“Plums are just the hardiest fruit you can grow down here,” Smith said.

The program donated thousands of pounds of plums to the food bank.

Gleaning is just one small part of an ongoing discussion about food security that Smith said is taking place both locally and across the country.

While the border remains open to food shipments from the United States and overseas, the pandemic has disrupted many industries and has raised fresh questions about how secure our local food supply is, she said.

AgricultureCoronavirusFood BankLangley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Cody Weatherston was involved in a car accident in which his car was T-boned while travelling down 16th Avenue in Langley. (GoFundMe)
Driver succumbs to injuries sustained during Boxing Day accident in Aldergrove

20-year-old Cody Weatherston suffered brain damage after being t-boned at 256th Street and 16th Ave

The forfeiture case based on seized gold and European cash is being held at the courthouse in Victoria. (Black Press Media files)
Province aims to seize gold, cash after cannabis raids at Langley homes

Police also found ammo, body armour, and a stun baton

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Hundreds participated in the Abbotsford Kisaan Tractor Rally on Sunday. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Tractor rally in Abbotsford draws hundreds

Abbotsford Kisaan Tractor Rally occurred on Sunday

Beds are set up at the emergency response centre at the North Surrey Recreation Centre. (Contributed file photo)
26 people test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey emergency shelter

Centre located at North Surrey Recreation Centre

Most Read