With more than one third of all the food we produce not being eaten, and much of it thrown into landfill, this valuable resource ends up becoming harmful to our environment.
When food is dumped in landfill it produces methane because it doesn’t get aerated. High levels of methane contribute to climate change. Putting food into landfill also wastes the energy and resources that went into growing, processing and distributing it.
By changing how we view, grow, eat and cook food, we can help our planet. Adopting a culture of growing food and sharing food is a great way to start.
Grow Free carts are places for people to leave or take home-grown produce, seeds and seedlings. They started in South Australia as a means of sharing food with neighbours, and are now found across Australia.
If you start a cart of your own, position it somewhere where there’s plenty of foot traffic. If you decide on a location you don’t own, such as a verge, café or school, ask permission before setting it up.
Many people build the cart from repurposed trolleys, bookcases, desks, bed boards – and excess materials lying around the house. If you don’t have nay of these, check your local second-hand store. You might even find a cart that’s ready to use as it is.
Once you’ve constructed your cart, fill it with food, flowers or whatever you want to give away. Encourage your neighbours to give what they can and take what they need.
Building a culture of giving takes encouragement and time, so make sure people know what the cart is all about. Consider a flier for a letterbox drop or online ways to get involved.
Food swaps are local gatherings where people exchange home-grown produce, seeds, gardening tips and more. Even if you have nothing to trade, you can go along and watch, share stories or ask for gardening tips. At the end of the day, it’s really about showing up and meeting people.
Most food swaps have a Facebook page you can join. There are also new food swaps being created all the time – get googling!
No swaps close to you? You could start your own. You might like to contact an existing food swap to learn from them. If you want to hold your swap on public land, contact your local council for permission. And if you need insurance coverage and support, consider becoming a member of Sustainable Communities SA.
Donating is a great way to share excess food, while helping those in need. Soup kitchens, homeless shelters and various church and community groups take donations, as well as Foodbank – Australia’s largest hunger relief organisation, which receives and redistributing food. Hold a food drive to donate to these initiatives.
If you work for a company that has quality, excess food, connect with a food rescue organisation like OzHarvest or SecondBite, which redistribute surplus fresh food to community food programs. Food is also donated by farmers, wholesalers, markets, supermarkets, caterers and organisations and businesses holding events.
Check out these sites for other ideas on how to share your produce: