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

Casey Hamilton

Casey Hamilton

Executive Director

Oh hi there! I have had the pleasure of working with the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project since 2011. Nowadays I mainly work behind the scenes, but sometimes you might catch me at a fruit tree harvest, farm day, or making deliveries!

I am a Registered Dietitian with a background in health promotion and population health, community development, and community-based participatory action research. What does this mean? I understand the power that food has in building and maintaining vibrant communities. I believe that people realize and build on their potential when they participate with their fellow community members in our food system. Food breaks down barriers between people and encourages communication and connection. No matter your background, food brings us together.

OUR BOARD

Jennifer Simpatico

Jennifer Simpatico

Board Chair

Jennifer has over ten years of work experience with tree fruits and tree fruit growers throughout the Okanagan, having worked as a crop insurance adjuster for many years and now working for the BC Government, providing crop insurance coverage to tree fruit and grape growers from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos. She is passionate about agriculture in the Okanagan and is grateful and excited to be a part of the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project Board of Directors.

Brian McKenzie

Brian McKenzie

Board Chair

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.

Robyn Bunn

Robyn Bunn

Board Chair

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.

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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