HIGH RIVER, AB: Harvest High River is a new partnership between the Town and High River Food Connections that provides community members with access to fresh produce from the Town’s edible trees and shrubs.
“The Town of High River’s Parks Division has been planting edible trees and shrubs for many years within public parks and natural areas,” says Tannas Webb, parks supervisor for the Town of High River. “There’s an opportunity for us to work with High River Food Connections to help provide long-term, sustainable access to produce for people who need it.”
High River Food Connections is a food security initiative created by Wild Rose Community Connections, a non-profit organization whose mandate it is to help families in the region to raise happy, healthy children. High River Food Connections goal is to help provide the High River community with access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life.
“High River Food Connections was created to identify all the existing food-related support programs in the community and build on those capacities to reduce food insecurity in High River,” says Sarah Bruinsma from High River Food Connections. “Food insecurity occurs when there is limited access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”
High River Food Connections is currently operating the following programs in the community:
- The Partnership Pantry –With help from the United Way/High River Partnership, a fridge and shelves filled with nutritious snacks is located at the High River Library. The program is operated over the summer months as well as over the Christmas, Easter and family week breaks to help fill the gap for those who may rely on school food programs.
- Kids in the Kitchen –Cooking classes for 10-14-year-olds are held at the Salvation Army Church.
- Lunch in a Crunch –A program held over the summer as well as during school breaks where students can text or call (587) 408-6502, and receive a text or call back with information on where they can pick up a free, anonymous lunch.
- Food Rescue Initiative –Food intended to be thrown out due to damage, excess or imminent expiration dates from two local grocery stores is retrieved, sorted, labelled and re-distributed to the community.
Bruinsma adds that for High River residents who rely on the Food Bank, or other similar programs to meet their nutritional needs, access to fresh produce can be challenging.
“That’s where our partnership can be a big help,” says Webb. “As the Town of High River does not spray these edibles with any herbicides/pesticides they are great for picking and eating.”
High River Food Connections and the Town’s Parks Division will now begin to educate the public on where these edibles are located throughout High River and begin to offer this produce to those who are interested.
In the coming months, the Town will develop an interactive map to communicate the locations of the various edible trees and shrubs located throughout the town, such as crab apples, saskatoon berries, plums, apples, zucchini and mint.
“We will also begin adding fruit and edible species to our Memorial Tree Program,” adds Webb. “The Memorial Tree Program runs annually, and residents or community members are encouraged to purchase trees in memory of a loved one or to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or graduations. Now those donors can help contribute to the Harvest High River initiative as well.”
For the 2018 harvesting season, the Town requests that residents contact the Parks Division directly at email@example.com or (403) 652-4042, for more information on the edible items and locations.
When harvesting from Town trees, it is the individual’s responsibility to only pick items that are known to be edible and suitable for harvest, i.e.: not poisonous, rotten or a known allergen for individuals. The Town also asks that participants do not harvest from private property without permission.