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Our Initiatives & Events

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AV Pumpkin Pick-up

A local food recovery initiative that rescues unwanted pumpkins to support waste diversion and food security

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Rescue the Pumpkins. 


Hundreds of pumpkins are grown and used for decoration each year in the Alberni Valley, the popularity of carving pumpkins and or using them as a decoration piece is prolific - while we enjoy and love our Halloween traditions, there is an issue at hand. Post Halloween, hundreds of families no longer use the pumpkins and often leave them to rot or they get tossed in the garbage. According to the US Department of Energy, pumpkins that end up in landfill will decompose and eventually emit methane – a greenhouse gas with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.

The Pumpkin Pick-up project uses the power of collaboration and volunteering to raise awareness around the pumpkin waste. This project aims to work with grocery stores and farms who have extra pumpkins after Halloween. We also work with restaurants and food banks as an avenue for food distribution.


The project coordinator and volunteers pick up pumpkins and sort them into three categories for re-distribution:

1. Food grade pumpkins are processed for soup, pie, and muffin making. Food is then donated to local food banks, restaurants, and volunteers

2. Pumpkins for wildlife/livestock consumption

3. Pumpkins for composting


This initiative was developed to address food waste and support waste diversion in the community. At a systems level, this project addresses the increasing issue or waste going to landfills, affecting our CO2 levels and capacity for managing waste. Additionally, this project also addressing food systems in the area by using a food source that would otherwise be wasted or discarded after October 31st. The pumpkin pick-up is not only a social and environmental impact project, but it also contributes to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 2: zero hunger

  • SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

  • SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

  • SDG 13: Climate action

  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals​



2020 Project Coordinator


Richard Huneault is a recent graduate of the Market-Ready Farmers Market and Agricultural Certification Program at North Island College. As a Manager of a successful retail store in Calgary for the past eight years, Richard believes in the power of servant leadership and building strong working teams.

Richard hopes to start a food recovery business in Port Alberni to address the abundance of food in the Valley and help to salvage the food and process into value added goods. When Richard is not foraging for local mushroom or crawfish you can find him at his regular employment at the BC Public Service as a Consultant for the BCCS.


Measuring our Success

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Videos Worth Watching

Project Coordinator, Richard Huneault, processing the pumpkins into soup for donation



Hungry goats from the SPCA - NOW up for adoption (as of December 3, 2020)



Resident black bears from the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre enjoying some giant pumpkins



Bouchra Savard, co-owner of Swept Away Inn shares a delicious warm pumpkin salad



Georgina shares her magical pumpkin smoothie recipe. Georgina is a certified herbalist, natural health consultant and instructor. She offers practitioner workshops through her business ‘Health & Wellness Georgina Cyr Foodie



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