-recycle IMperfect and
Lovingly prepared and rescued food on its way out of the door!
F.A.R.M. Full Circle
In Watauga County, tons of locally grown produce was going to waste. An excessive amount of produce, especially in the summer growing months, a lack of harvesters, and the difficulties associated with distribution meant that a lot of healthy produce was thrown away or left to rot. Carol Coulter, of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, and Renee Boughman, of F.A.R.M (Feed ALL Regardless of Means) Café, were certain that this food could and should, meet the needs of local, food insecure individuals in a healthy way.
In partnership, they launched the Full Circle project, which collects imperfect and excess produce from gardens, farmers, and grocery stores. The shelf life of this produce is extended by canning, dehydrating, and freezing. Produce is also used to create ready-to-eat casseroles and soups, stir fry meal kits, popsicles, and salsas. This minimally processed food is then distributed to community kitchens, food pantries, agencies and individuals year-round, especially when donated produce is scarce.
In less than a year, Full Circle recovered and preserved upwards of 7,000 pounds of produce that created 5,000 servings of food. Both the need and hope are bright for the future of Full Circle.
Here's how to reduce food waste in your community:
· Ask the right questions: Talk with your county's food pantries and community gardens to learn more about your local food chain. Who harvests the produce? How and where does the harvest go? Who receives it? These questions help to create your local “food map” and identify where gaps of waste and excess may exist.
· Identify: Talk with local food agencies about their partnerships with donors and which populations they target. Find out if there is a need for ready-to-eat foods beyond typical food pantry options.
· Access: Determine what is being used and what is not. “Recycle” excess/imperfect produce collected according to the needs of food insecure individuals in your community.
· Partner: Engage experienced individuals and community members to teach others how to use and process food for distribution and/or preservation. Partner with organizations, local restaurants and food agencies with the means (i.e: equipment and space) to prepare/convert, store, and distribute excess food collected.
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