Meander Valley Gazette

Your Independent Community Newspaper

A plum job for pickers

NewsJoanne Eisemann

LAST SUMMER, Nan Preston saw the need to acquire preserving equipment for Harvest Helpers. She applied for and recieved a Tasmania Hydro grant, one of six awarded from the 90 applications received.

“It was one of those projects that you just have to support,” explained Kate Hickey, Hydro Tasmania Community Coordinator.

Based at Deloraine House, fruit tree owners in the Valley contact Harvest Helpers when they have fruit they are unable to pick and wish to share with the community.

Once assessed, a crew is sent to pick fruit when ready to harvest. Fruit is divided between owners, pickers and the community.

The community share goes out fresh through various programs such as Deloraine House emergency aid, the Eating with Friends program and other meals and functions prepared by volunteers, or is preserved by Harvest Helpers Preservers.

Outreach areas are linked through Westbury Community Health Centre, with other areas being implemented this year.

The need to preserve excess fruit has grown with the Harvest Helpers program, so Preservers have now joined Pickers as volunteers.

As an experienced preserver, Nan Preston knows fruit can be preserved by various methods. Tasmania Hydro and Meander Valley Council grants have helped purchase equipment so excess fruit can be juiced, bottled, dehydrated, water-bathed, pressure-canned and stored for distribution throughout the year.

“We train those who have done no preserving,” Nan said. “We use accredited kitchens in the community and all volunteers are trained in safe techniques”. The group is selfsustainable, partnering with other community groups and through generous community donations.

“We want to remove wasted food in the community and get it to people struggling to give good food to their families. We also want to teach people to preserve and use the food they have access to,” said Nan.

Working with Westbury Community Health Centre, Deloraine House and the Tech School, Nan will bring food-preserving awareness through programs beginning in autumn.

To volunteer as a Picker or Preserver, call Nan Preston at 6302-3377 or email mvharvestco.op@gmail.com.

David Hudson from Harvest Helpers tests the newly-preserved produce with Elena Olah from Deloraine House. Photo by Mike Moores

David Hudson from Harvest Helpers tests the newly-preserved produce with Elena Olah from Deloraine House. Photo by Mike Moores