File photo

File photo

The idea of harvesting, hand-picking and trading fresh produce locally has grown in the Columbia Valley.

Kalista Pruden volunteered to start the Columbia Valley Fruit Exchange closed group on Facebook to reduce wildlife attractants from the community to minimize human-wildlife conflict and share the wealth of food with the community.

But the idea to bring people together stems from a concern that Andrea Smillie, WildSafe BC community coordinator, brought to the community she serves.

In previous years, WildSafe BC had been trying to coordinate a way to get fruit off of their trees and off of the ground to reduce wildlife attractants in the communities and recently theyve shifted toward trying to hand that role over to the communities themselves because it takes a lot of time for the coordinator, and therefore a lot of money as a non-profit society, to get them to look after that, said Ms. Pruden, noting Ms. Smillie had approached her with the idea to get involved. I agreed to take on the role and set-up the Facebook group with the goal of trying to connect people who have fruit with people who want to pick fruit.

While the goal is to get local fruit off of the ground as well as out of the trees and shrubs to reduce the risk of tempting animals into the Columbia Valley, Ms. Pruden believes the opportunity to help with fruit harvesting, fruit picking, fruit sharing and fruit processing could benefit many individuals and groups from the community; including Groundswell Network, The Columbia Valley Food Bank, Wildsight and WildSafe BC.

I have my fingers in with a lot of different groups in the community, so it made sense to get involved, said Ms. Pruden, noting the support from each group or person comes in at different capacities. We can pull a few different groups together and support this (goal) to get it going and sustain it in the community.

I know Groundswell is completely on board with it, and Im sure that the Columbia Valley Food Bank could benefit from the group as well, and Im sure that Wildsight will also help spread the word about the group as well.

Ms. Pruden explained that Ms. Smillie would be forwarding requests for fruit pickers to her on behalf of people who do not have Facebook.

There are other ways, dont fret, said Ms. Pruden.

For more information, visit Columbia Valley Fruit Exchange page on Facebook.