Waste Not Want Not goes pumpkin picking

Waste Not Want Not goes pumpkin picking

An enthusiastic group of 16 volunteers recently did a great job picking up five tonnes of pumpkins in just under two hours for Carrathool’s Waste Not Want Not project.

Waste Not Want Not delivers otherwise wasted produce from the district, through Foodbank, to the tables of hungry families throughout New South Wales and the ACT.

The pumpkins were donated by South Pacific Seeds from its property at Griffith.

The group of pickers ranged from school students to those in their 70s and all had a great day together. The weather couldn’t have been better and South Pacific Seeds provided a tractor and pickup bins to make the job easier.

The day had some excellent community support with the bus supplied by Hillston Central School and a picnic lunch supplied by the CWA.

Auddino Transport provided the cartage to Foodbank in Sydney for free.

Some of the statistics for the day:

  • 5.2 tonnes of pumpkins picked up
  • approximately 1,300 pumpkins (mixed jap and butternut)
  • equivalent of 7,000 meals

Waste Not Want Not has resulted from cooperation between the Uniting Church, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Carrathool Shire Council and local farmers.

Carrathool Shire, located in the Riverina region of south-western New South Wales, is traditionally a grazing and cropping area but, with innovations in irrigation, the industry has expanded.

Unfortunately, perfectly sound food that does not meet the very narrow specifications for commercially acceptable product — it could be too small or have blemishes on its skin — is going to waste. One grower last year ploughed in 3,000 tonnes of pumpkins.

With the help of Waste Not Want Not, fresh fruit and vegetables will now be saved and distributed through Foodbank in Sydney to charities throughout New South Wales and the ACT.

Foodbank is the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia, endorsed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council as the food industry’s preferred means of disposal of surplus product.

Waste Not Want Not originally aimed to provide at least 16,000 kg of food each year — the equivalent of 35,320 daily servings of vegetables. Already local farmers have promised 200 tons of produce — or 441,500 servings.

CEO of Foodbank NSW, Gerry Andersen, attended the launch of the project and said he had never been so touched by a community.

Penny Davies, Community Development Officer with the shire council, said for the past ten years there had been calls for the city to support the bush. Now that farmers were in a position to look with some hope toward the future they could say, “Here’s something we can do for you.”

Lou Revelant, rural support worker with the Department of Primary Industries, said Waste Not Want Not would also help build resilience in the Carrathool community.

The Uniting Church’s rural chaplain Julie Greig said farmers and irrigators had been made to feel like environmental vandals, when it was really in their interest to grow food sustainably. “And now, here they are, giving away food for needy people. It just goes to show that growing food is a really good thing.”

A full report will appear in the June edition of Insights magazine.

The monthly newsletter for Waste Not Want Not is available from Julie Greig.

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