Preserving the Fruits of the Okanagan

In 2016, the Okanagan School of the Arts (OSA) received a grant from the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS) to purchase equipment for their Community Learning Kitchen.

The OSA purchased a commercial grade dehydrator to glean and preserve local fruit and vegetables.

The grant was made possible from the Harold and Irene Myers Family Fund held with the CFSOS.  The Myers were one of the first contributors to the Community Foundation back in 1994. They felt it was important to give back to their community that they had called home for more than 47 years.

A dehydrator allowed the OSA to expand its community kitchen programs; aimed at teaching youth and adults how to preserve fruits and vegetables.  The OSA works with local gardeners, farmers and organizations to glean and preserve local produce while it is fresh, for future use.

“These dehydrators provide ideal learning equipment for preserving foods such as apples, which grow abundantly here. As an example, we were gifted apples from the Penticton Farmers Market and we were able to produce amazingly delicious apple chips,” said Jane Shaak, executive director for the OSA.

“OSA’s President Georgia Krebs has a wealth of knowledge with dehydrating, so she was able to have a small group of volunteers prepare the apple chips. Since then, we have supplied apple chips for breaks at meetings and have had rave reviews on how delicious they are,” added Shaak.

The Dragonfly Pond Society was one of the first community groups to make use of the dehydrator.

“The kitchen provides a safe, professional learning environment for the participants. Learning about and using the equipment in the kitchen offers additional skills that will help with future paid employment, while they learn life skills,” said Traci Fladager, coordinator at the society.

“Having the knowledge and the ability to use the equipment will go a long way in enjoying healthy food choices on a limited budget,” she said.

“We believe that these dehydrators are a start to something much bigger where we will continue to encourage the community to prepare for winter together by preserving foods,” said Shaak.

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