By Darren Lum
Six years on and the Apple Sauce Project continues to yield results worthy of a community built on hard work and collaboration.
The Apple Sauce Project harvests apples from local trees and processes them into apple sauce to feed seniors and families who receive meals through Meals on Wheels SIRCH Frozen Meals and through local food banks.
This initiative is made possible with the help of volunteers property owners and community partnership organizations such as the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit SIRCH Community Services Haliburton Highlands Health Services – Community Support Services Entrée Plus Haliburton County FoodNet and local food banks.
Since the project began in 2014 there have been 4300 cups of apple sauce made which is roughly equal to 8600 servings of fruit.
Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit public health food worker Kate Hall said the longevity of the project is amazing and a testament to the community.
“It speaks to people’s interest in food and bringing people together around food and preparing food. It’s something people can feel good about. Knowing that seniors and others families and individuals in our community don’t always have particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. Those are becoming more expensive for one. It’s also more difficult if you’re single and maybe you lost a spouse or what have you you know trying to keep up with that kind of thing” she said. “It’s a great community effort.”
Pointing to an apple tree she said: “We have these resources here. We might as well use them.”
Volunteers are needed to pick and make apple sauce.
Picking will take place on Sept. 16 and 17. They can contact Nancy Brownsberger at 705-457-2941 ext. 2926. Apple sauce product is on Sept. 23 and 24. Anyone interested can contact Jay McIvor at 705-457-1742. Property owners with apple trees interested in donating their yield can bring them to the SIRCH Community Kitchen located at 2 Victoria Street in Haliburton from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 16 or 19.
Hall said this year the Apple Sauce Project will not include Highlands East like the past two years.
“They don’t have the capacity to participate this year” she said referring to the community cooks.
In Minden there is still a search to replace Marilyn Lesperance as Community Cook co-ordinator position. At this time it is unknown if Minden will be involved but a meeting regarding the issue was scheduled. Besides the time for the Apple Sauce Project the regular commitment is 12 hours a week and includes organizing the community cooks at the Minden Community Food Centre. Anyone interested can contact the centre at 705-286-6838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hall adds the project’s scope in the future could expand to include other produce.
“What happens to all the pumpkins after Halloween? The grocery stores. What happens when they don’t sell them. Where do they go? You know we have all these pumpkins that again could be donated could be gleaned could be made into pies muffins and soups” she said. “Thinking about how we can grow and what that means then. It does mean more community volunteers more cooks more organization right? Who has the capacity and who can do what so sometimes you just grow these things incrementally. Maybe there is rhubarb next spring? So thinking about those things that we have bumper crops around.”
This concept is related to the recently launched national program Grow a Row which includes local partner organizations such as the Central Food Network the Minden Community Food Centre the 4C’s SIRCH the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit Haliburton County FoodNet the Haliburton Highlands Community Garden Network the Haliburton County Farmers’ Association and Abbey Gardens.
The program encourages gardeners and farmers to plant an extra row of produce and donate the harvest to people in need through local food programs.
“If you have something in abundance you know share it with the community. Just providing those opportunities for people to be able to share” she said.