Around 3,000kg of surplus leeks were hand-pulled, topped and tailed by dozens of volunteers at a Lincolnshire farm to help reduce waste, combat food poverty and support the agricultural sector.
After being picked at Willow Farm in Coningsby on Saturday, April 23, which is run by J & V Casey and Son Ltd, the leeks were placed into crates and distributed to frontline charities and local groups.
This included school breakfast clubs, older people’s lunch clubs, homeless shelters, food banks and community cafes – via FareShare’s regional centres.
It was organised by global voluntary service organisation Lions Club International and the initiative was supported by law firm Shakespeare Martineau. It was the first of the year in conjunction with The Gleaning Network, which encourages people across the country to pick surplus crops to shrink farm-level food waste.
Dr Chris Hibbert is the national hunger officer at Lions Club International and formed the Lions Gleaning Hub two years ago. Since then, more than 38 tonnes of food from eight counties – including Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire – have been rescued.
Chris said: “Last year, we were inundated with pumpkins as they are getting more popular and we had opportunities with around a dozen farms. While we managed to help most of them, the waste was still staggering.
“All those who volunteer for us have been shocked by the quality and quantity of food available on the farms we have managed to engage with and the variety of reasons for this surplus.
“While food bank, community fridges and soup kitchens are well-supported, awareness of food waste generally is still not widely appreciated. We are hoping to develop more opportunities with farms across the country, as well as encourage more volunteers to get involved.
“Another area we are keen to develop is around education of growing, preparing and cooking food as there is an over-reliance on takeaways and pre-prepared food. It is important for people to realise that the food we are picking is fresh, nutritious and delicious. It isn’t waste – it is surplus and our aim is to stop it from becoming waste.”
As part of its responsible business strategy, Shakespeare Martineau – which has a presence in Lincolnshire – is aiming to deliver 10,000 volunteering hours in 2022. People from the firm contributed towards this by pulling, preparing and saving the surplus leeks in Lincolnshire.