A fun, inclusive, educational and nourishing volunteer experience!
Help us build community through growing and harvesting local food!
Craving a fun way to meet new people? Want to play in the trees and dig in the dirt? Excited to learn about how our food is grown? Happy about taking home some fruits and/or vegetables? Looking for an inclusive volunteer experience?
Look no further!
There’s nothing quite like getting out in the fresh air with other great people to play in the trees and dig in the dirt! Many friendships have been made through meeting at fruit picks and farm days. It’s also fun to bring along visitors for a true Okanagan experience!
People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities are welcome! We do our best to ensure there is a place for everyone. If you have an idea for a way that we can make our volunteer experience more inclusive to support your needs, just give us a shout!
No matter your age or experience there is always something interesting to learn and experience. See how fruit is harvested and how vegetables are grown!
Volunteering with the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is nourishing to the body, mind, and soul. Did we mention that you also get to share in the harvest? Yes, it’s true! There is nothing like the taste of farm fresh veggies or freshly picked fruits!
It feels good to be a part of a community-driven initiative. Volunteering with the OFTP means that you are helping reduce food waste, supporting sustainable food production, and helping get food to those who need it most.
I love volunteering with the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project! It’s such a shame to see so much food wasted in our valley. I am happy to be a part of the solution.
Helping with the harvest is always fun and rewarding way to get fresh air and exercise. We welcome the produce we can take home as a thank you.
It’s so great to find a volunteer opportunity where my children are welcome! We get to connect to the land and food grown in our area. It’s a good learning opportunity.
I’ve had some great learning opportunities through the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project that have helped me get experience for my resume.
Our farm/harvest volunteers are the magic of the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project! You choose which of our fruit harvests and farm days to attend and then join us in growing and/or harvesting delicious fruits, vegetables, and nuts to share with our community. This includes planting seeds and seedlings, weeding, and harvesting!
It’s easy and convenient to volunteer with us:
- Register as a volunteer to start receiving emails about upcoming fruit harvests and farm days.
- Choose which harvests and farm days you’d like to volunteer at by signing up through the link in our emails.
- Once you are registered, we’ll send you the details. If you have a ladder, bucket/picking bag, or gloves, bring them along with you (not required).
- Meet the Harvest Leader and other volunteers at the location and we will grow and/or harvest food together! Farm days and harvests last approximately 1-2.5 hours. Produce is shared among local organizations serving those in need, the volunteers, and the tree owner (if it’s a fruit harvest). It’s really that easy!
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions below for more information about your volunteer experience with us.
Looking to take on a more challenging and exciting leadership role?
Harvest Leaders are specially-trained volunteers that go the extra mile to help get the fruit from the tree to the community organizations we support!
Each 4-5 hour Harvest Leader shift includes:
- Picking up equipment from our storage shed (with your own vehicle or our big OFTP van) before the harvest starts
- Greeting volunteers and leading a safe and fun harvest
- Occasionally delivering fruit to local organizations afterwards
- Bringing harvest equipment back to the storage shed
- Filling out a short post-harvest report. Easy!
- Access to a vehicle that can fit harvest equipment (should be able to fit at least one six foot ladder, picking buckets, and multiple 2×3 foot stackable plastic totes. 4 door cars can often fit this equipment too)
- Energetic and passionate
- Able to supervisor volunteers and ensure safe use of harvest equipment
- Able to deliver fruit to a variety of organizations after the harvest
- Available to lead a harvest once/week or bi-weekly (flexible time)
No experience necessary, training provided!
- First-choice of harvests: our volunteer opportunities are in high demand and our fruit harvests fill up fast. Guarantee your spot by signing up to lead.
- Steady supply of fruit: think cherries, apricots, plums, pears, and apples – yum!
- Family and friends: bring your people along with you. They will have the first option to attend the harvest before volunteers.
- Give back to the community in a meaningful way: reduce food waste, help feed our community, and meet new people.
- Sharpen your leadership skills: gain valuable work experience. We are happy to provide reference letters!
Contact us for more information about becoming a Harvest Leader.
Delivery Volunteers Help us deliver fresh, local produce to organizations and schools in our community.
- Choose what mornings you are available (ideally, we’d like Delivery Volunteers to commit to a specific day each week or bi-weekly)*
- Pick up produce from one of our harvests, cold storage, or farm plot
- Deliver the produce to designated organizations and pick up empty totes
- Return the totes to our storage shed
*Approximately a 2-4 hours volunteer shift.
- A large vehicle/trailer to deliver produce
- Ability to lift 50 pounds
- Delivery Volunteers must be interested in building relationships with the organizations we donate to. This involves promoting the project when dropping off produce and talking to the representatives to see what their needs are, how the donations are working for them, and reporting back to us.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of produce do you harvest?
Fruit may be in our name, but it isn’t our only game!
While it’s true that most of our produce rescue harvests involve picking tree fruits like cherries, apricots, plums, and apples, harvests can include anything edible! We sometimes get called to rescue grapes, strawberries, garlic scapes, potatoes, and even tree nuts!
We also grow all sorts of vegetables through our community farming program: kale, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, garlic, and much more!
Do I need experience in harvesting fruit or vegetables?
No not at all! That’s all part of the fun. Tips will be sent out in emails regarding the harvest and farm days and in newsletters throughout the season. The Harvest Leader can help if you are unsure of the proper technique of planting or harvesting different foods. If you are helping out with weeding, they will show you which plants are weeds. If we harvest at someone’s farm or orchard, the owner will often give some tips before we are sent out for the harvest!
What happens at a harvest or farm day?
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the Harvest Leader and will help them set up the equipment needed for the harvesting or farming. Once things are set up and ready to go, the Harvest Leader will give some you some instructions and then you’ll be off picking, weeding, or planting!
Please respect the owner’s property and the fellow volunteers around you. For example, please do not climb the trees, climb on any roofs, trample through gardens, etc. If harvesting fruit, practice good ladder safety, ask for help, and only reach produce that is within a safe reach (e.g. in tall trees). But most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Once as much produce is harvested as possible, you can ask the Harvest Leader if they need any other help. If you are able to drop off some produce on your way home, please let the Harvest Leader know!
When are harvests? How often do I have to attend?
We harvest mornings and evenings, weekdays and weekends! Our system is very flexible. Harvests usually last anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on what we are harvesting and the abundance of produce. You choose when you would like to attend by signing up via our harvest emails.
How many volunteers attend each harvest?
Our harvests require anywhere from 2-25 volunteers, sometimes even more! It depends on what we are harvesting and how much there is to harvest (e.g. one backyard apple tree or an orchard of 60 trees). Please note that volunteer spots may fill up quickly, especially for smaller harvests. However, if you have not had an opportunity to attend a harvest in a while because they fill up fast, please email our staff and we will make sure that you are able to make it to an upcoming harvest!
Where are the harvests and farm days located?
We currently host harvests throughout the South Okanagan (Penticton, Kaleden, Summerland, Oliver) and the Central Okanagan (Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna, Lake Country). When a harvest notice is sent out, we include the general area of the harvest by using popular places in the area or cross streets. Once you register, you will receive the specific address and details for that harvest in a confirmation email.
Can I take some of the harvest home with me? How much?
You bet! Volunteers are welcome to take home some of the harvest to enjoy. The amount depends on how much is harvested and where the harvest is going to be delivered later. We ask that you keep in mind that one of our main goals is to help address hunger in our community.
Before you leave a harvest, make sure you show the Harvest Leader how much produce you are taking home so we can keep statistics.
*If you find yourself in a position of needing some extra fresh produce, please speak with us so we can make sure that happens.*
What should I wear? What should I bring?
It all depends on the type of produce we are harvesting, the terrain, and the weather on the day of the pick. Depending on the harvest or farm day, you may get a bit muddy, sticky, or dusty!
Sturdy shoes for walking on uneven ground are recommended. Bring a rain jacket with you on cloudy or cooler days in case it starts to rain. In the summer months, do not forget to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun! Bring some water too! There is usually not a bathroom that we can access on site unless we are at the farm.
For each harvest/farm day, there will be a list of equipment that we may ask you to bring with you in the e-mail, if you are able to. This includes step ladders, boxes, and bags.
To take home some of the harvest, you will need a bag/box/bowl.
Are harvests near transit or is carpooling available?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some volunteers choose to bike or use modo car share. If you would like a ride, don’t hesitate to ask for one! We can try to set up carpooling for the harvest by emailing the attendees. If we find a match, then you will have a ride!
Where does the harvest get delivered?
The harvest goes to a variety of local shelters, transitional housing, seniors centres, food banks, daycares, schools, churches, community clubs and more! Do you know another place that could use fresh produce donations? Let us know!
May I bring my children? How about other family members, friends, and visitors?
Yes! Just please make sure that you register all attendees. Giving us notice allows us to plan better for our harvest and farms days to make sure we have the right amount of volunteers.
If you are bringing children or youth who are minors, please make sure you select the option of bringing accompanying minors when registering for a harvest. Volunteering with the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project is a family-friendly experience! Children benefit in a variety of ways when they come out and harvest with us. Volunteering educates children about where their food comes from, teaches life skills like gratitude and community responsibility, and promotes a healthy lifestyle!
Our volunteers come from all walks of life: seniors, children, students, single parents, various cultures, abilities, and experiences, and more! We believe that each person brings value and beauty into this world. It is amazing to see people come together while picking fruit.
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.
Okanagan Fruit Tree Project Society
PO Box 22001
Registered Charity #