Sussex farmers are being asked to donate fruit and vegetables that aren’t the right shape or size for supermarkets to a charity's food scheme.
The Gleaning Network UK is looking for Sussex farmers who have surplus crops in their fields, either because they don’t meet strict supermarket shape and size requirements or because of bumper harvests, to donate them for redistribution to those in need.
The ‘Gleaning’ process is being introduced to the county via the charity’s new Sussex hub, a service that’s forged partnerships with local charities FareShare and the Best Before Project.
The scheme is already operating nationally with five other regional hubs in Kent, London, Manchester, Bristol and Cambridge.
Around 30 tonnes of produce including apples, pears, plums, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbages and parsnips has been gleaned by around 160 volunteers across the country.
Now the charity is asking Sussex farmers to dig deep.
Bernie Thompson, Gleaning Network UK’s Sussex coordinator, said: “We’re very excited to be spreading the practice of Gleaning in Sussex, and looking forward to working with local farmers to save some of their unused produce for charitable use.
“In our experience farmers who have spent a lot of time, energy and resources to grow a crop try their best to use it all.
“However, sometimes some produce is the wrong size or shape for retailers or it is simply uneconomical to harvest it all. This is where we can help and save this produce for those in desperate need of food.”
Donated crops will go to local food charities like FareShare - a food distribution charity that last year provided more than 8.5 million meals for those in need, but who are now struggling to cope with a massively increased demand for their services.
Nathan Au, Project Manager at FareShare Brighton and Hove, said: “Working with the Gleaning Network is a great partnership, the fresh fruit and vegetables that they provide are vital to the health and wellbeing of the clients that we serve and the FareShare distribution network gets it to those who need it quickly.”
Volunteers from Brighton and Hove are travelling to Southampton on Saturday to help glean thousands of pumpkins and squash that would otherwise be left to rot in the fields.
One tonne of pumpkins will be brought back to Brighton to be redistributed by FareShare.
If you’re a farmer and would like to help with the scheme, contact Bernie Thompson on Bernie@feeding5k.org or call 07793 027372.
For more information visit www.feeding5k.org/gleaning.php