The Great Pumpkin Pick-Up
Q&A’s with Richard Huneault
Where are you from? What place do you currently call home and why?
I’m originally from Calgary but moved to Vancouver Island to be closer to my sister and the ocean. Port Alberni brings the beautify of the ocean and waters to the forests and mountains. It is full of nature and opportunity.
What community/communities are you part of ?
I connect with almost everyone. My community are the people who I interact with regularly. They help round me or ground me. They lift me up and check me when I’m wrong. My community helps me understand myself and the world around me.
What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
I’ve always cared about others and interacting with hands on activities. I am also interest in farming and outdoors activities that lead to food waste recovery and landfill waste diverging. Seeing how food could be repurposed for compost and animals, and even sometimes for the food bank helped encourage me to start this project.
How did the idea for this project come to you?
The project came to me after seeing all the wasted food at farms or in restaurants. After Halloween you see hundred of potentially edible pumpkins, squashes, and gourdes rotting in yards and roadways. When I was in school for agriculture I saw how easy it was to have access to a large industrial kitchen for food processing and the rest was just getting volunteers.
What was your motivation behind this project?
I had just moved to town and hadn’t gotten a full time job. I had the time for a project and a chance to meet people in the town I did not know. This gave me the opportunity to show the community who I was and how I can contribute.
How did your community react to your project? Have they been encouraged to get involved in any other ways?
People love seeing their pumpkins going to the food bank or to farm animals or rescues. They know they have contributed and that they have made an impact. I was overwhelmed with support and volunteers. People who wanted to give back and contribute to their communities even in the smallest ways.
In retrospect, what was the impact of your project?
The project was much bigger than expected and without support from Rising Youth I would have been less equipped to properly and successful complete the project. We were able to feed hundred of animals and food bank recipients each year after Halloween with food that was going to be wasted.
How has the project impacted you in your everyday life?
The recognition and networking help immensely. More people were willing to work with me and I was able to develop more opportunities for myself in my professional and personal life. I feel more accomplished and able to tackle new projects or challenges.
Were there some bumps along the road or things you may do differently in the future?
Soliciting volunteers and organizing a kitchen during COVID-19 had its challanges. But with the support of the community and #RisingYouth, I was about to prepare and plan for these new challenges. Next time, we could use more space, gloves, mask, hand sanitizer, a safety plan, etc.
What would you say to a youth who is thinking about doing a #RisingYouth project?
Don’t be afraid to fail. You will never know what you are capable of if you don’t push yourself to do new or frightening things. The support you need is there so all you need to do is try.