The Big Community Glean Up


July 2020

In 2019, our network of community growers were selected by Gleaning Network UK, run by Feedback Global – a UK based global campaign against food waste – to be trained as a team of gleaners who are invited to local farms to harvest fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go unharvested.

Funded by Sefton Council for Voluntary Service, we piloted a glean and cook project in October which was a great success (click here for more details). We took a small group to a farm and harvested five tons of potatoes, beetroot and cabbages in less than two hours. We also took a group on an urban forage around south Sefton parks and community gardens, harvesting seasonal gluts of fruit and vegetables. None of the produce was wasted as it was shared between:

  • A community meal for 40 people.
  • Each person took home two bags of fresh produce – one for themselves, and one for a
    friend/neighbour – with recipe sheets included so that they could replicate the community meal at home.
  • Crates of cabbages and potatoes were taken to the Litherland and Peel Road foodbanks.
  • A crate of beetroot was used at the community café at Cambridge Road College.

Feedback from those involved say they would like to do more, and learn more about reducing food waste at home and in our community.

So, we were delighted when Merseyside Recycling & Waste (MRWA) Community Fund awarded Taking Root a grant to expand our activities in this year, and this is what we are planning:

  • GLEANING/FORAGING – we will take small groups from south Sefton to enjoy the fun of
  • FOOD PRESERVATION WORKSHOPS – so that ‘gleaners’ can learn how to extend the life of the selection of seasonal food we have harvested through pickling, preserving, or freezing.
  • COOK AND EAT COMMUNITY MEALS – all those that attend the glean will form the community cook team, and led by an experienced chef, will learn how to use the produce to make delicious meals to serve up at sit-down meals for our community.

Promoting the reduction of waste, encouraging reuse and recycling, the project will encourage those involved to:

  • Learn about the provenance of the food we source from farms.
  • Discover more about what is grown locally in community gardens and local public spaces eg we harvested figs from Hatton Hill Park in Litherland and many did not know that they could grow figs in south Sefton.
  • Learn different ways to cook, eat and preserve foods when we have seasonal gluts.
  • Try new foods and meal combinations.
  • Reuse plastic containers which they will bring and use to take food home after the cook and eat event.
  • Reuse jars for preserving produce.
  • Reuse carrier bags in which they take their produce/cooked food home.
  • Recycle food waste through preserving or garden composting.

Any surplus fresh produce will be distributed to the network of community cafes and food banks, to help those struggling with food poverty and access to healthy food, and make sure nothing is wasted.