In addition to collecting and pressing the cherries, Fields Forward also packaged the boxes as well. (Photo by Dennis Charles)

Creston Food Recovery Initiative saves 10,500 pounds of fruit from waste

The cherries and apples destined for the landfill were converted into 2,700 litres of juice

The results of the second annual Food Recovery Initiative project are in.

This year, 10,500 pounds of culled cherries and culled apples were saved from ending up in the landfill.

The collected fruits were then turned into 2,700 litres of juice, divided into five-litre juice boxes and then distributed to local and regional food banks.

In total, the Creston Valley Gleaners Society Food Bank received 174 juice boxes, the Cranbrook Food Bank Society received 175 and the Nelson Community Food Centre received 205.

“What we’re doing is feeding families while reducing waste,” said Elizabeth Quinn, the coordinator at Creston’s Fields Forward Society.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between Fields Forward and Creston Valley Food Action Coalition, the group behind the Farmers’ Market and the Harvest Share project.

“Fields Forward has a mobile press that presses all kinds of fruit into juice,” said James Gates, the president of the Food Action Coalition.

READ MORE: Harvest Share program running for the 12th year

“We have volunteer labour, so it was a nice fit for our two groups to work together to take all this food that was destined for the waste and turn it into nutritious juice for families that are in need.”

All the cherries came from the H and R Orchard, while apple juice was donated by Faraman Farm and Cider Press to make the cherry-apple blend.

“(H and R Orchard) brings all those cherries into their processing facility. They have lots of people selecting ones that are perfect and ones that aren’t so perfect,” said Gates. “They go out in a big conveyor belt at the back of the building and it goes to a dump truck. All those cherries usually go to the dump.”

Fields Forward staff gathered the cherries by standing underneath the conveyor belt and collecting whatever they could grab.

“The orchard usually has 30 dump-truck loads of culled cherries. We captured probably one and a half dump trucks,” said Quinn.

READ MORE: Feeding families, reducing food waste

In addition to collecting and pressing the cherries, Fields Forward also packaged the boxes as well.

“Having a two year project makes a huge difference, because we’ve learned what we needed to know how to make it efficient in the first year, and we were able to apply what we learned in the second year,” said Quinn.

The cherries were collected between Aug. 2 and 4, while juicing took place from Aug. 3 to 5. Deliveries to the food banks were made on Aug. 7 and 8.

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