Waste not, want not thanks to gleaning

November 2020

Although life has been very different in 2020 the Taking Root in Bootle team has been working hard to prevent food waste and to ensure good food gets into the hands of those who need it most.

Thanks to the support of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA) Community Fund, we have been able to add more gleaning expeditions to our activities. The word ‘glean’ is an old Celtic word which means to gather or scrape together, and refers to the practice of going over the fields after harvest to collect any grain the farmer may have missed.  This is exactly what we have been doing!

We have been working with national organisation Feedback Global and local farmers to ensure the produce that they are unable to sell isn’t wasted.  With the agreement of the farmer we are able to visit their site and pick fresh fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be left to rot.

So far in November we have gleaned cabbage, cauliflowers, winter veg, onions and pumpkins.  Due to Covid-19 safety restrictions we have had to change our plans a little, and go to the field in small groups rather than the minibus of volunteers we originally intended. However, the end result has been the same – the produce we glean is distributed to local residents with the help of South Sefton Foodbank and community organisations back in Bootle where it is eaten and enjoyed.

Visiting a pumpkin farm to collect what we could from the fields of unpicked pumpkins, we filled a van with 70 of them to bring back to Bootle where we turned them into pumpkin soup and pumpkin curry – placing them in old plastic sweet containers! These meals were then distributed to local people and Sefton Community Pantry members who were able to enjoy a healthy, nutritious meal whilst enjoying a night off from cooking!

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with people commenting on social media and texting their thanks.  In the light of the current media focus on food poverty – particularly amongst children – we were delighted to have been able to prevent waste and ensure access to healthy food for those who need it most.

We are looking forward to 2021 when we will hopefully be able to take larger groups along on our gleaning expeditions, and bring back lots more fresh food which we will be sharing out at our community cook and eat events.

However even in our reduced capacity, coronavirus-safe teams we are still able to prevent food waste and redistribute this surplus produce for the benefit of Bootle residents.

Thanks to MRWA for partnering with us on this project.