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Photos provided by Hidden Harvest Ottawa

Hidden Harvest named Best Social Enterprise at the 2nd Ottawa Social Impact Awards

By Andrew Monro on April 6, 2018


Andrew Monro is Apt613’s correspondent at Impact Hub Ottawa, writing about the many innovators that call Hub home. Hub is a co-working space at 123 Slater Street for projects with a positive local and global impact.

Impact Hub Ottawa and the City of Ottawa have announced the winners of this year’s Ottawa Social Impact Awards. The Awards are a celebration of community leaders who are making Ottawa a more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable city. This year was no exception: 42 Ottawa-based community initiatives, student-led projects, and social enterprises were nominated this year, over 22,000 people voted on who they felt were the most deserving, and three judges decided the winners in three categories: Social Enterprise, Community Initiative, and Future Leaders.

“Pick, Share, and Take Good Care.” — Hidden Harvest Ottawa motto

Hidden Harvest Ottawa (HHO), the winner in the Social Enterprise category, is a social enterprise concerned by the amount of local food going to waste. Founded in 2012 by Jason Garlough and Katrina Siks, they were inspired by their discovery of delicious local nuts, apples, and berries that can be found on trees and plants in Ottawa and its environs.

Hidden Harvest brings together volunteers to harvest a tree in their community, then sort and share that food that would have otherwise gone to waste. These harvest events are organized and led by a trained Neighbourhood Leader who sets the stage for an enjoyable, inclusive, educational, and safe harvest. This bounty is shared between the homeowner, volunteers, the nearest food agency, and HHO processing partners.

Since 2012, HHO’s efforts have helped bring more than 15,000 pounds of fresh food to those in need, supported tree-owners who might not have the ability or mobility to harvest their trees (but don’t want to cut ‘em down), reduced food waste and diverted organics from landfills, and brought people together to build lasting friendships.

“The city offers a tremendous amount of fruit that is hiding in plain sight. We’ve gotten to a place where we often see this as a nuisance, but by rescuing this bounty that would otherwise go to waste, we can make good use of these local fruit and nuts!” says Brodie Kinnear, HHO’s Volunteer Coordinator.

2017 was a particularly successful year for HHO: with a veritable army of 400 volunteers, they were able to harvest more than 200 trees and rescue more than 6,400 pounds of fresh, local fruit.

“As an organization, we continue to grow, and have had a constant increase in the number of folks volunteering with us as well as the number of community organizations, local food agencies, and processing partners we are able to connect with. This incredible support has increased our visibility within our community, and highlighted the importance of our work.”

HHO is incredibly grateful for its dedicated volunteers, neighbourhood leaders, tree owners, key supporters like Beau’s All Natural Brewery, and processing partners that help support the work they do. Through the donations of their time, funds, or perfectly processed products, they are able to continue growing as an organization and rescuing more local fruit to share with more people in our community.

HHO’s future goals are to incorporate as a charitable organization to more accurately reflect the way they operate. They are also actively recruiting Neighbourhood Leaders who lead and manage the harvesting events. These volunteers act as stewards of local fruit trees and to lead safe, inclusive, and educational harvests. They are also currently seeking volunteers with financial expertise and those with experience transitioning organizations to nonprofits to provide advice or join their Advisory Committee. If any of these opportunities interest you, Hidden Harvest Ottawa would love to hear from you.