Gleaners gotta glean!

Skookum Gleaners is up and running for summer 2014. So far we’ve sent teams of pickers out to pick cherries three times, apples twice, and plums once. Here are a few photos from the recent pick of gorgeous yellow plums in Westview:

If you want more information about how to get involved, check out the Skookum Gleaners page on this website. You just need to become a member of this cooperative and get yourself signed up as a picker. So simple! The pickers get a share of the crop, as does the owner of the tree. Eventually we plan for a share to go to Skookum to get processed and sold to recover costs, but for now we’re donating that share to food pantries and other agencies in the region that serve people in need.

For more information, please get in touch with us.

Get involved with Skookum Gleaners

To everyone in and around Powell River,

Take your pick! Pick your battles!

Skookum is getting the Skookum Gleaners project up and running again for the summer of 2014. The purpose of this project is to pick, preserve, and share as much fruit (and nuts) as we can manage, in order to reduce food waste & bear incidents, to help monitor the threat of spotted-wing drosophila, to spread skills and knowledge about fruit-tree care & food preservation, and to get together and have fun.

We’re happy to announce that the Anglican Church of St. David & St. Paul in Townsite, home of the Sycamore Commons permaculture project, has given us permission to install The Big Dehydrator in their kitchen and do some processing there. We plan to do a lot of dehydrating, as well as some workshops in canning, cider-pressing, making vinegar, and whatever else our members are interested in. This project is all about bringing people together, sharing the bounty, transferring skills, and many other good things.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. If you’re not a member of Skookum but would like to participate, please join (here’s how). It’s easy and affordable: only $20 to become a member, and that $20 actually buys you a share in our cooperative. We have no annual membership dues, and if you ever choose to withdraw from membership, we will refund your $20. What a deal!
  2. If you would like to be on the list of pickers and have opportunities to go out picking fruit, please fill out the form here.
  3. If you have fruit or nut trees (or berry bushes; but no blackberries, please!) that need picking, please fill out the form here.
  4. If you have skills you’d like to offer, please let us know. Maybe you’re a whiz at making fancy fruit leathers; maybe you know all there is to know about making plum wine… or apple butter… or pear brandy… we want to hear from you and so do your fellow members! Get in touch with us.
  5. In order to keep costs as low as possible, we’re on the lookout for some equipment to help us pick and process fruit. So if you have any (three-legged) orchard ladders in good condition, picking bags, garbage cans with lids, cutting boards, chopping/paring knives, aprons, etc., or anything else you are willing to loan or donate, please contact us.

You’ll be hearing more from us as the season progresses. But if you want to get involved, now is the time!

Skookum Gleaners is back!

Our lovely logo, designed by rabideye (AKA Giovanni Spezzacatena)

Back in 2010 and 2011, the newly-formed Skookum took on management and support of the Skookum Gleaners project, which had formerly been known as the Powell River Fruit Tree Project. Member Anne Michaels was the coordinator, and we put together a team to support her and get some picks and other fruit-tree activities going. In the end, it became difficult to give Anne the support she needed, and regretfully the Skookum board decided to shelve the project after the 2011 fruit season.

The good news is that this project is back. David Parkinson has decided to take on management of the picking activities and is also working on coordinating some fruit-processing activities involving Skookum members.

Plans are evolving, but the general idea is to make picking opportunities available to Skookum members, and to plan some group processing activities using one or more church kitchens in the region (to keep costs down for participants). David is hoping to generate some revenue through sales of processed fruit so that the project can become more self-sustaining. But the main idea is as always: to save more food from going to waste; to reduce bear incidents; and to share food-preservation skills and food.

You’ll be hearing more as time goes on, but for now here are some ways that Skookum members can help:

  • By donating picking equipment (ladders, baskets, etc.);
  • By offering up fruit from your trees or from your neighbours’ trees, if it looks as though they won’t be using all of their fruit;
  • By making a vehicle available for picks;
  • By sending us your great ideas and suggestions;
  • By volunteering to help process fruit.

Saving fruit that would otherwise go to waste, processing it for longer-term storage, and distributing it into the community is the kind of project that a cooperative is perfect for. Eventually it would be nice to see this summertime project evolve into a year-round series of opportunities for our members to produce, preserve, and share more food amongst themselves.

Stay tuned for more news and more opportunities to pick fruit and get together with others to preserve the fruit.

Skookum Gleaners up and running for 2011… join us!

Very young apples… a long wait, but worth it!

Skookum Gleaners (formerly known as The Powell River Fruit Tree Project) is ramping up the planning cycle as the fruit is visibly forming on the trees. Who knows whether 2011 will be a stellar fruit year (like two years ago) or a not-so-good fruit year (like last year)? We can’t wait to find out! Seriously. We cannot wait.

The Gleaners Team meets at 9:30 AM on the second and fourth Monday of every month upstairs at Quality Foods (in The Step Above coffee shop) for our planning sessions that this year will include:

  • more promotion, and for a longer period;
  • more door-to-door flyer drop-offs at homes with fruit trees;
  • more outreach to community groups;
  • more feedback and coordination of pickers & picks;
  • more follow-up on picks (how they went, where the food went and how much, the variety and the quality of fruit picked and donated, the state of the trees, etc.);
  • more education about picking, preparing, and preserving fruit — we hope to get lots more mileage out of our cider press this year!;
  • more fundraising activities, including a new Skookum 2012 local growing calendar out in early August!; and
  • A Fall Fair fruit-themed festival!

All this in an effort to increase the number and quality of picks, resulting in:

  • more food picked & preserved for the community;
  • more donated fruit for people (not bears) in need;
  • better disposal of spoiledwindfall fruit for farmers to feed pigs, use as compost, etc.;
  • a healthier treehuman population.

But we need your help to make this all happen. Skookum Gleaners is a project of the non-profit Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative, and is run by volunteers. The picked fruit is divided equally between the volunteer picker, the tree owner (if they want any fruit) and charity.

Some of these might grow up to be cherries.

Yes, it’s a great idea and it really deserves widespread community support. The Gleaners Team needs people with all sorts of talents, experience and some time to devote to the project, as well as any money you can donate to make this year’s project the best ever.

Interested? Contact us at

You may donate via PayPal or Credit Card by clicking here, and noting “Gleaners” in the Purpose box or you may drop off a cheque for Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative (or ‘SFPC’), noting your Gleaners contribution in the memo field, to Kingfisher Used Books (4486 Marine Ave., Powell River, BC, V8A 2K2 CANADA) in care of SFPC.

Opportunities available

Hey there Skookum members (and other interested folks)! We want to let you know about some opportunities to get involved with a few projects that we will be working on this summer. If any one of these projects looks interesting to you, please contact us and we’ll hook you up.

Skookum Gleaners

Once again this year, we’ll be managing the local fruit-tree gleaning project. One of the tasks for this year is to figure out how we can combine gleaning with activities for members of Skookum such as canning, dehydrating, cider-making, and other processing. The basic model is that 1/3 of the gleaned fruit goes to the pickers, 1/3 to the homeowners, and 1/3 to the community; but we might need to look at ways that this project can generate some revenue to pay a coordinator and return some tangible value to Skookum. Interested? Contact us!

Bulk-food buying

As we mentioned at our recent public meeting, we’re planning to start bulk-ordering non-perishables, as a way to increase people’s individual and household food security. Food storage, along with production and preservation, is one of the three pillars of food security, and it’s an activity that works well when people work together. We’re getting this project up and running and looking for someone interested in coordinating this project. There will be some payment in the form of food or money. Interested? Contact us!

Preserving food

Last year we set up a half-day work party to get people in the kitchen together canning tomatoes. This year we plan to do a lot more to help our members set up a well-stocked home pantry full of preserved food of all kinds.  We’ll need to plan more work parties to learn and do canning, drying, freezing, pickling, and other preservation techniques. Interested? Contact us!

And of course, if there is a project that you would like to see happening — especially if you’re interested in leading that project — contact us. We want our members to step up and start running things!