Alberta program aims to prevent garden food waste

When Erin McDonald purchased her Edmonton home, she had her sights set on a yard that would allow her to grow a big garden.

Her dreams came true.

This summer, she is growing beans, tomatoes and squash, and she intends to give most of it away.

“There is a lot of passion and love that goes into growing a garden,” McDonald said.

“If we can get it into the hands of somebody who is food insecure, it can really make a difference to them.”

This year, she is donating her produce through the Leftovers Foundation’s Home Harvest program.

People with fruit trees or gardens can donate half to a service agency like the Mustard Seed in Edmonton and the other half may be split between the grower and volunteers with the foundation.

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McDonald said it’s a win-win.

“It can help reduce the grocery bill… There is more than we can give away (to family and friends), so this is a good way to give back.”

Read more: Pandemic project: Calgary gardeners set up seed library

Last year, 876 pounds of produce were harvested between Edmonton and Calgary. Leftovers Foundation’s Garnet Borch hopes the momentum keeps building.

“Across Canada, we see over a third of food produced is being thrown out,” Borch said.

“Our entire program is based on getting that food out of the landfills and getting it to people in need.

“It’s picked fresh off the vine, fresh off the tree, and it goes directly to the service agency, and the fresh produce is so incredibly valuable to them,” Borch said.

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Borch said Leftovers started in Calgary in 2012, with the main program focused on “rescuing” food from restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries that would normally be thrown out.

Home Harvest launched in 2020.

READ MORE: COVID-19 pandemic has Calgary gardeners planting more veggies, ‘growing their own food’

“Our biggest need right now is growers for Home Harvest, so anybody with surplus food growing in their yard can sign up,” said Borch.

“We would love to get more food rescued.”

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