Canada’s Wine Capital exports more than just wines

Some two million people a year sign on for “voluntourism” vacations, combining exotic travel with hands-on and heart-filling volunteer works.

Volunteers at Okanagan Gleaners sort produce before preparing it for soup mix

Travelers looking for a close-to-home version of this vacation alternative should look to the community of Oliver, in BC’s South Okanagan.

With some four-hundred wineries clustered on the west bank of Okanagan Lake, Oliver has been billed as the Wine Capital of Canada.

But, in addition to grapes, Oliver is also cultivating community through a unique local Christian non-profit. And it’s not only Oliver’s wines that are being shipped around the world.

(Thinking about a “voluntourism” vacation? Read the full story about how Oliver-based Okanagan Gleaners feeds the hungry throughout the world.)

Picky produce shoppers’ preference for unblemished fruits and vegetables means that much of what farmers grow never makes it to the grocery store. Oliver-based Okanagan Gleaners ensures that some of that produce makes it to those in need.

Okanagan Gleaners receives produce from local growers that would otherwise be discarded, often by the ton

“Gleaning” refers to a biblical concept by which farmers left excess and uncollected produce for the poor and needy to pick; it was enshrined as law in many European countries until modern times.

The Christian-based Okanagan Gleaners carries on the biblical tradition with modern methods: the organization sends its refrigerator trucks to area farms to gather unused produce or receives it at the old tobacco barn that the organization converted into its warehouse when it opened its doors in 1994.

Volunteers from school groups to snowbirds work side-by-side at Okanagan Gleaners

Rather than toiling in the fields, volunteers sort and prepare that produce for dried soup mix that’s then distributed to aid groups throughout the world, from Ghana to Guatemala.

Last year, thousands of volunteers from throughout BC and beyond processed over eight million servings of soup. It’s simple yet rewarding work with tangible benefits to the hungry.

And, surrounded by some of Canada’s most esteemed wineries, volunteers have ample opportunity to relax with a glass of wine and the end of a day’s fulfilling work.

Visitors to Oliver have some four-hundred wineries to choose from in their downtime.

Read the full story of Okanagan Gleaners–including some trip-planning tips–over at Zenseekers!

If You Go

Start planning your #OkanaganExploring adventures with these websites:

Learn more about Oliver on the Hello BC  website

Did you know that Oliver is the Wine Capital of Canada Start planning your trip.

Interested in heading to Oliver? Here’s an itinerary to make your trip even better!

Uncover more about the Okanagan’s offers for adventure. Check out ZenSeekers #OkanaganExploring Expedition page to see how you can have an adventure like this.