He who plants a tree loves others besides himself – English Proverb

The fruit trees planted on Galiano by the early settlers are, many generations later, still bearing fruit and providing an opportunity for the community to get together and glean.

The dictionary defines glean as: to pick up or to gather. But on Galiano, it is so much more than that. Here gleaning is about sharing the bounty. This is the third year that the Galiano Community Food Program has coordinated the gleaning project which to date includes rhubarb, plums, apples, potatoes and kiwi from a couple of dozen properties and which is greatly appreciated by all the participants.

Volunteers respond to a call to help harvest the fruit or vegetables at a donor’s property; date and time are arranged and an enthusiastic group arrives with ladders, boxes, baskets, bags and kids in tow to assist in the harvest.

In the case of fruit trees, ladders are strategically placed and everyone finds their comfort zone; up the ladder, climbing the tree or on terra firma picking the fruit on lower branches. Soon the busy pickers are chatting, tasting and planning different ways to use the fruit.

Many hands make light work, so it is amazing how quickly the boxes get filled. When we see all the boxes full of fruit, we are in awe of the bounty a single tree can provide. The harvest is then shared among the gleaners, the property owner, the Food Program and sometimes the Food Bank.

Often, the gleaners are unable to identify specific apples or plums as many of them are heritage varieties. To help us with this The United Way of Victoria has given us a small grant to identify and label the fruit bearing trees on Galiano with the participating property owners and the Community School.

In the case of potatoes, Lisa and Roger Pettit of Galiano Sunshine Farm and Tom and Henny Schnare of Cable Bay Farm, can identify all the varieties they grow for themselves and for the Community Food Program’s gleaning project.

The gleaning project is one part of the Community Food Program’s goal of food security on Galiano. Food Security was the theme of a forum on Hornby Island called The Hornby Forum on Food and Farming. Jane Wolverton and Cedana Bourne of the Food Program attended and one message they brought back to us was to plant fruit and nut trees for future generations.

The fruit of the trees planted by the early farmers on Galiano are a legacy greatly appreciated and we are grateful to them for their wisdom and generosity. As the ancient proverb goes, It’s a wise man who plants a tree under whose shade he will never sit. After all, who are we to question the wisdom of the ancients. ☺