Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Okanagan Gleaners

When we were in Oliver a few weeks ago...we visited Okanagan Gleaners.  I promised you a tour...and today is the day!  It is a most interesting place. 

Okanagan Gleaners was started in 1994 by a small group of Christian believers in the South Okanagan Valley.  They saw how much food was being wasted or lying un-harvested in the fields and the orchards...while around the world people were starving.  They felt a responsibility to salvage what they could and send it to those in need.  A local orchardist offered them a small acreage with an old 1920’s tobacco-drying barn (in the photo above). Soon this building was painted and renovated into a food-processing plant. Production began in July 1996.

They produce mainly dried soup-mix consisting of Brussels sprouts, onions, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips, potatoes, and dried peas. Since 1996 over 45 million servings have been shipped and distributed — literally around the globe.  Current production averages over 6 million servings per year. Now that is a lot of soup!

On the day we visited...there were volunteers of all ages hard at work.

They were processing apples.  Apples are the only fruit that they dry...and obviously not for the soup mix.  The apples are re-hydrated by the recipients...making apple sauce and apple juice.  Candy to the recipients!

Several families with young children were camping in the area...and brought the whole family out to work that day.  They were quite fun to watch!  And what a great way to teach children about serving...and giving...and helping others.

There is a campground on site...and a youth group was there for the week.  Now that is a youth retreat with a purpose!

This gentleman was hard at work sorting apples...and whenever the semi-truck behind him is full...he is also the truck driver.

The operations manger (centre photo) gave us the tour.  We saw every stage of production...and the many barrels of completed product in the warehouse...waiting to be distributed. 

This map tells the story.  Food that would have gone to waste in our enjoyed by hungry people around the world.  The soup mix is distributed by organizations such as World Vision.

Not to us, LORD, not to us
   but to your name be the glory,
   because of your love and faithfulness.
Psalms 115:1 NIV

They are doing a great work over bowl of soup at a time!  If you would be interested in vacationing in the Canadian desert...and making a difference at the same time...check out Okanagan Gleaners.  They are an inter-denominational organization and welcome people of all faiths.  Volunteers work every morning...and have the afternoon to do as they please.  We met some folks in our campground that were volunteering at the Gleaners for the entire summer.

Someone had a vision and pursued it...and Okanagan Gleaners was the result. Amazing! 


  1. What a wonderful vision that was. What a shame that many other countries don't follow those precept, it could make such a difference.

  2. This really is cool and amazing!

  3. This is precious. Truly the spirit of Christ in giving of yourself and food to others.

  4. Great project! The concept is unique to me, but what a wonderful idea. I used to be a gleaner picking apple drops, but the orchard owner didn't donate them, they went into apple juice and ciders to sell at his stand. I don't think we waste too much in our corner being such an impoverished one.

  5. Why isn't something like this on the front page of the Globe and Mail? What an uplifting post!

  6. What a perfect service project...and to see the children become part is so rewarding for them all.

  7. How fabulous - never heard of them before - should check this out for a 'working' vacay!

  8. It is wonderful work that the Okanagan Gleaners are doing!

    In NYC there is a service called "City Harvest" where unused produce and prepared food is rescued from all segments of the food industry including restaurants, wholesalers, greenmarkets, bakeries, caterers, hospitals and corporate cafeterias, as well as canned food drives, and then distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens to feed one million needy New Yorkers.
    Again, some saw waste and a need, and wanted to correct that!

  9. PS: I blogged about the MGCC cookbook today! :)

  10. I've long admired the work of the Gleaners. Like Pondside said, why isn't this on the front page of the newspaper.

  11. There is an organization like this in Abbotsford too, if you are interested.

  12. How absolutely wonderful. I love that the dream has allowed so many others to be part of helping in such a worthy ministry.

  13. This is the best post! Thank God for people like this who see a need and have a vision of how to deal with that need. I was not aware of any programs like this. Thank you for so kindly sharing it. I do wish I lived nearby and could have my grandchildren particiate.

  14. Great story and amazing idea. We have gleaning groups in town. In the past I have been part of that effort, but to go so many more steps beyond the local level, I am really impressed.


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