Skip to content

Gleaners pick produce in Surrey to feed those hit hardest by high cost of groceries

Farmer calls Sources’ gleaning program a ‘win-win’ for everyone
33632765_web1_230824-SUL-Gleaning-MAIN_1
Deirdre Goudriaan, manager of Sources’ food security program, with beans picked by volunteers at Lone Stream Farm in South Surrey on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

At some Surrey-area farms, volunteers are spending summer days picking fruit and vegetables in an effort to help feed people in need.

It’s called gleaning, or collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields, and additional gleaners are needed along with donations of produce grown on local fields and yards.

A community harvest program operated by Sources Community Resources Society (SOURCES) has been around for five years. Nearly 1,845 kilograms of produce have been harvested, including berries, lettuce, beans, apples, pears and more.

The service is offered to anyone who wants help harvesting produce that would otherwise go to waste.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, a small group of volunteers picked buckets of beans and blueberries at Rose Newling’s Lone Stream Farm on 184 Street, just south of Semiahmoo Fish And Game Club.

Ultimately, all that produce ends up at Sources food banks in South Surrey and Langley for distribution to people who can’t afford groceries right now.

• RELATED: BC Lions help tackle hunger at a very busy time for Surrey Food Bank.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Sara Humphreville, who works part-time for Sources and leads volunteer gleaners, picks blueberries at Lone Stream Farm in South Surrey on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Sara Humphreville, who works part-time for Sources and leads volunteer gleaners, picks blueberries at Lone Stream Farm in South Surrey on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Volunteers have gleaned at Lone Stream Farm since 2019.

“This summer they’ve been out four times already, to pick cherries, blueberries, beans, and leafy greens, whatever is ready to harvest that my husband and I cannot pick on our own, and they will be back again for fruit tree harvest” said Newling, a registered massage therapist and holistic nutritionist.

She called Sources’ gleaning program a “win-win” for everyone.

“I am happy that this service is available as I don’t like food to go to waste,” Newling added. “If somebody is in need and can use it, great. It’s all about building a community of people who want to help in this way.”

Produce is grown free of chemicals at Lone Stream Farm, and that very much appeals to Deirdre Goudriaan, manager of Sources’ food security program.

“We would love to have more healthy produce like this to give people, because this is the healthy stuff,” Goudriaan said. “You don’t want people to be filling their stomachs with overly processed foods.”

With the number of food bank clients on the rise locally, she said the gleaning is important to Sources and the people helped by the organization.

A “core group” of around 10 volunteer has been busy gleaning this summer, Goudriaan explained.

“It’s not the kind of volunteer work that’s for everyone — it’s physical and requires stamina and fair bit of strength, working outdoors in the heat right now,” she cautioned. “And it’s a special kind of volunteer who cares about growing food. In general we need more people in the community to take a greater interest in food.”

Sara Humphreville, who works part-time for Sources, led the volunteer gleaners at Newling’s farm.

“We pick the vegetables and fruit and we’re doing a good thing with it all, and we give some to the donor as well,” said Humphreville, who lives in the Fleetwood area.

“The food isn’t going to waste, which is important,” she added. “I’m lucky because I get to see all the produce together, like, 200 pounds of it, and then drive it to the food bank and see it given to people who need it.”

The gleaning for Sources happens until the end of September, she said.

“We haven’t done a lot of apples yet, so that’s definitely coming in the next few weeks,” Humphreville noted.

Spreading word about the program is part of the work.

“We’ve made a neighborhood flyer that we handed out, and people hear about this (program) from others as well — other farms, the volunteers,” Humphreville added.

“One of our previous donors, she had a fig tree, the fig tree died, but she passed on our information to her friend that had a prune-plum tree. We went there last week and we got, like, over 50 pounds of prune plums and we’re looking into the neighbour’s yard and they have a plum tree, too. The woman is so happy about our program. We have a glean set up at the neighbour’s later this week. From that one person, even though her fig tree died, the word of mouth is very helpful.”

To get involved in Sources’ community gleaning program, call 604-542-4357, email volunteerservices@sourcesbc.ca or visit sourcesbc.ca/volunteer-opportunities.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter



Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
Read more