OVERVIEW

The Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is a Registered Charity that operates in the Central and South Okanagan. Through our various programs, we grow and harvest fresh produce, and we also share produce and food systems knowledge with the community.

Produce Rescue

Backyard fruit tree owners, orchardists, and farmers with food to harvest contact us and we organize our volunteers to go out and collect it! We harvest from fruit trees, nut trees, and vegetable plots. The harvest is then shared between our amazing volunteers, the home owner, and the majority is delivered to the community organizations we support in the Central and South Okanagan. Some is reserved for our social enterprise to raise funds to support our programs!

Community Farming

Our volunteers help plant, weed, and harvest vegetables such as onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, kale, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, squash and more! We grow food sustainably, with a focus on soil health and plant diversity. Our harvests are shared with volunteers and community organizations in the Central Okanagan and beyond. In 2021, we were gifted a beautiful farm property in East Kelowna. We are working to establish a new farm plot here – stay tuned for more updates in 2023!

Collaborative Harvest

We partner with local schools and social service agencies to bring student groups or groups of social service program participants to come once or multiple times a season and help out at the farm or with rescuing produce throughout the Okanagan. This inclusive activity connects youth and community members who often experience marginalization with the outdoors, and with their local food system. As always, participants get to take some yummy fresh produce home at the end of the day!

Food System Education

This program focuses on facilitating knowledge exchange and around local food issues. It includes knowledge sharing sessions in the form of dialogues or workshops that the OFTP hosts, often in collaboration with other organizations or institutions, on themes around equity, food justice, sustainability, and others.

OUR MISSION AND MANDATE

Our mission is to cultivate community through local food!

Our mandate is to run food-based programming that supports:

  • equitable and dignified access to fresh, local produce
  • knowledge exchange about our local food systems
  • local agricultural heritage and food producers
  • resilient food systems
  • sustainable food production
  • food waste reduction

OUR APPROACH

Our approach is to always work through the lenses of equity & inclusion, reconciliation, and sustainability. We actively engage community members with lived experience of marginalization in designing what OFTP programming should look like, we increase dignified and stigma-free access to fresh produce and increase opportunities for community members to engage with local food-growing lands, such as orchards and farms.

We also align with the definition of food security published by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2022:

“Food security means that everyone has equitable access to food that is affordable, culturally preferable, nutritious and safe; everyone has the agency to participate in, and influence food systems; and that food systems are resilient, ecologically sustainable, socially just, and honour Indigenous food sovereignty.”

We recognize that food donations improve immediate food access, but do not contribute to long-term household food security, which is a problem of inadequate incomes. We are committed to doing our part to share knowledge about important issues such as food security and food justice as a way of working towards building a more resilient and healthy local food system.

OUR HISTORY

For many years, members of the Okanagan community brought the issue of surplus food going to waste throughout the valley to the attention of the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council (COFPC). There was also an awareness of the many residents who go without enough food to eat on a daily basis. With this gap between excess food and folks going hungry, it made sense to develop a means of recovering surplus produce in our abundant community. From this, the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project was born in 2012, originally as a Food Action Project of the COFPC, to share the bounty with those who need it the most. The project grew so fast, that in 2014 the OFTP became a non-profit society and transformed again in 2016 to become a registered charity! In 2019 the OFTP took over the operations of the Central Okanagan Community Farm Society and later also took over the operations of the COFPC.We are currently in the process of developing and defining the capacity in which we will carry on the advocacy work of the COFPC.

OUR TEAM

Katie Pease

Katie Pease

Executive Director

Katie Pease is a Principal of Synapse Strategies and the incoming Executive Director for the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project Society (OFTP). Her work experience and education include an in-depth exploration of ecosystem health & resilience, systems thinking and facilitating organizational change. She has a wide array of strategic planning, project management and facilitation experience, serving as a liaison between people & planet, assisting groups with the development of common understanding and goals and the implementation of restorative projects. Her most recent work has included developing and launching a certification program for the BC Wine and Vine industry called Sustainable Winegrowing BC. A California native, she worked with AG Innovations Network as a Food System Alliance Facilitator, in counties across the state, to help develop robust regional food systems. She has helped develop a community food strategy, Sonoma County Food Action Plan; a social enterprise farm, CAN Farm; a food charter for BC communities, Squamish; and managed as well as served on the Boards of a thriving food cooperative, Quincy Natural Foods, and the international Sustainable Wine Roundtable. Her formal education includes a Masters Degree in Strategic Leadership Toward Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. Her collaborative thesis work is titled: Community Food Systems – Working toward Sustainability and Satisfying Human Needs. Her claim to fame is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), from Mexico to Canada, in 2002. Crossing the border on the Pacific Crest Trail was her first visit to Canada. Recently celebrating 20 years since the PCT, she hiked the Great Divide Trail in Canada. You can see a photo blog of the journey on her Synapse Strategies website. She’s thrilled to walk into a new chapter and challenge as the ED of the OFTP!

Morgan Johnson

Morgan Johnson

Farm Coordinator

Hi there, I’m Morgan! I started as farm coordinator with OFTP in the summer of 2023, but have been a volunteer with OFTP since the beginning! My passion for addressing food insecurity through building community was sparked by the OFTP, and I have been involved in a number of different initiatives in this regard for over a decade. I am a lover of all things veggie – growing, cooking, and of course eating! I am a novice home gardener and I’m very excited to finally have a proper home garden to tend to. I’m also so thankful for all the wisdom that’s already been shared with me through my work with our amazing volunteers and my colleagues. In the colder months you may find me avidly puzzling, and in the warmer months I love to go hiking, foraging, and tend to my garden.

OUR BOARD

Harmony Bjarnason

Harmony Bjarnason

Director

As a planner and facilitator with a Master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics, I specialize in building resilient agricultural communities, climate change adaptation planning, collaborative problem solving and project management. I currently work with over 100 different collaborators and organizations to develop and implement projects that support the agriculture sector in BC in adapting to climate change.

 The next chapter of the Fruit Tree Project will be an important one – to lay the foundation for a financially self-sustaining farm, to contribute to food security in the Okanagan, and to deliver programs and events that connect people to the land and the food. The opportunities are boundless, and the challenge will be to unite under a common strategy, raise funds and incrementally build the vision one step at a time.

Robyn Bunn

Robyn Bunn

Director

Hello! My name is Robyn Bunn, I decided to join the board of OFTP because I’m interested in the intersections among food systems, social justice, and building community, and I believe in OFTP’s approach to social change. I hold a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, my areas of study were alternative food systems, labour, and social justice. I currently work as the manager of the Community Service Learning program at UBC Okanagan campus, and have been a collective member RAMA Okanagan, a group that supports and advocates for migrant farm workers, since 2013. I have been an uninvited guest in the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territory of the Syilx Nation for many years, and enjoy exploring the beauty of this land and learning what it means to be a respectful guest here in the Okanagan with my family.

Brian McKenzie

Brian McKenzie

Director

Brian McKenzie is a distinguished strategic marketing professional and the driving force behind The Connective Strategic Marketing Group. With a steadfast focus on fostering growth and innovation, Brian has honed his expertise in advertising, brand development, and online marketing, making substantial contributions to the success of social enterprises and startups. His pragmatic approach to leadership and his commitment to sustainable business practices have not only shaped his ventures but have also left a lasting impact in the field of marketing strategy.

Okanagan Fruit Tree Project Society
PO Box 22001
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 9N9
250.277.1932
info@fruittreeproject.com

Registered Charity #
819840778 RR0001

We acknowledge that we are situated on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan People. We recognize, honour and respect the presence of Indigenous people, past, present and future.

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