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Taking Root puts the spotlight on gleaning

A Bootle network of community gardens which encourages local residents to grow and eat their own food has added another string to its bow by launching gleaning expeditions.

This involves members of Taking Root in Bootle visiting a farm in south Lancashire to harvest fresh produce that is surplus to requirements and would otherwise go to waste.

The leftover crops are then brought back to Bootle to be distributed among members and the wider community, and put to good use supporting Taking Root’s drive to encourage healthy eating.

Ruth Livesey of social enterprise Regenerus, which co-ordinates the Taking Root network, commented: “The origins of gleaning go back thousands of years, but in its modern form it’s a great way of rescuing surplus fruit and vegetables left after crops have been commercially harvested, or misshapen produce that does not meet supermarkets’ cosmetic criteria.

“At the same time, gleaning also provides an excellent opportunity for our members to get out and about and learn more about large-scale farming and food production across the region.”

To celebrate the launch of the expeditions Taking Root organised a special food sharing day which featured the gleaned produce as well as foraged food and gluts from community gardens in the area.

The Glean and Glut Event was held at St Leonard’s Youth and Community Centre on Peel Road and was open to all members of the local community.

Guests were encouraged to join in the collective experience of cleaning, chopping, prepping and cooking the food before sitting down to an excellent lunch.

They also received goodie bags containing a selection of the fruit and vegetables used at the event, recipe cards and packets of seeds collected from the Taking Root community gardens.

The event proved a great success, showing what can be achieved by working together and highlighting the importance of food and friendship.

Ruth Livesey added: “This event was a very good way of celebrating the launch of our gleaning expeditions which will now become an integral part of Taking Root’s activities in the future.”

The gleaning trips have been organised with support from Feedback Global, an international organisation committed to creating a more sustainable food system. The Glean and Glut Event was supported by a Community Resilience Grant from Living Well Sefton.