15 Sep, 2020

Connect and Share with Spare Harvest

Connect and Share with Spare Harvest

Image Credits: Spare Harvest members Laura and Melinda enjoying the benefits of shared surplus

The inspiration to bring about change can come from unusual places. For Helen Andrew, a surplus of mandarins that no one else wanted was the motivation for starting an online community aimed at creating connection and reducing waste.


Moving to the Sunshine Coast several years ago, Helen wanted her family to experience the same connection to food that she did growing up, so they bought acreage where the family could grow their own produce.

Helen Andrews, Founder Spare Harvest

The property had a well-established orchard. That first season delivered an abundant harvest but, being new in town, Helen had limited networks with which to share her bounty. Friends and school contacts were struggling to share their own plentiful crops.

Helen felt a great sense of disappointment when she had to bury hundreds of surplus mandarins at the end of the season. Resolving to never let her citrus go to waste again, Helen was determined to find a way to get excess produce into the hands of people she didn’t know.

Spare Harvest was born, a way for Helen to share her excess mandarins with strangers in her community.

Share, swap, sell and source with Spare Harvest

The Spare Harvest community platform connects people to exchange spare kitchen and garden resources so they are used and not wasted.

Whether you have an abundance of fresh herbs, excess plant pots, surplus glass jars, or a few hours of labour to offer, this community is your go-to-place. Simply create a listing to share, sell, or swap and let the community work its magic.

Spare Harvest is about giving people the opportunity to place their own value on something. What I consider rubbish may be useful to someone else, Helen said.

Friendship and connection

Helen is now Spare Harvest’s Chief Connector, her love of growing food and reducing waste is matched by a passion to bring people together to share meaningful exchanges.

It’s one thing for people to put excess produce out the front of their homes for people to take. But I wanted people to meet each other, to have an interaction and a meaningful conversation. Spare Harvest is about bringing people together and using what we have spare to connect us.

One member, Natasha, reached out for Helen’s mandarins. Unable to come to Helen’s place, Helen dropped them off a week later when she was in Natasha’s area. When Helen returned home, she opened a message from Natasha with sincere thanks and a note to say they will be the only fruit in daughters lunch box that week.

Our trash is really a treasure for someone else. What you have spare can make a powerful difference in someone else’s life.

A body corporate has recently contacted Helen to see if they could use the platform for residents to list surplus food they have to share with other residents. You don’t have to have a garden to participate, many of us have pantry items that we will not use. Share them on the Spare Harvest marketplace.

After listing some surplus passata jars on Spare Harvest, Helen was contacted by a woman down the road who said she could use the jars to store her pickles. The pickles are donated to Care Outreach, a local organisation that supports farmers. Glass jars destined for the bin are now in farmers kitchens after receiving a RUOK visit.

Spare Harvest is for everyone

The Spare Harvest website now has over 3000 members. Membership is free and it only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. Anyone anywhere can join and start a Spare Harvest community in their neighbourhood.

Redland Bay, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast regions currently have the most members, but Helen has big plans for Spare Harvest to go global and would love people to use the platform to create their own Spare Harvest community.

Our lifestyles are so transient these days. Regardless of where you live, work or travel, with Spare Harvest, you can always plug in to someone locally and see what is available, Helen said.

For busy families, Spare Harvest offers the convenience of fresh, nutritious, locally grown food that is either free, or low cost; and the added benefit of knowing that you have connected with someone in your neighbourhood and made a difference.

With Spare Harvest, we are reducing unnecessary waste and building stronger food connections. It might be one less orange, or one less glass jar in the bin. One small action collectively combined makes a massive impact.

Share Spare Harvest with your network. The more people using the marketplace the more value we collectively create. The more the merrier.

How to share, swap or sell with Spare Harvest

Scan your kitchen or garden and find something that you can offer to others. If you have nothing to share, you can always create a wanted listing, telling people what you are seeking:

  • Join up at https://www.spareharvest.com
  • Select + New Listing
  • Identify whether you want to share, swap, sell or want an item, and complete the details. Don’t forget to add a photo.
  • Anyone interested in an exchange will contact you directly through the platform
  • Download the app on the App store or get it on Google Play to stay connected

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