08-Nov-2017

Reduce waste with Spare Harvest

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.

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.

The idea for an online platform came after the family used Airbnb to rent a house. A similar concept could be applied to sharing surplus food and garden supplies.

Share, sell or swap with Spare Harvest
In 2016 Spare Harvest was born, an online community that connects people who have spare garden or farm resources with others who can use those items.

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 want to facilitate opportunities for people meet each other, have an interaction, a conversation. It’s not just an exchange of product, it’s an experience.”

One member, Sharon, sells eggs from her farm. Another member with a little girl regularly visits Sharon to see the chickens and collect eggs, giving the young girl a chance to learn more about where her food comes from. 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.

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, and presented to farming families as a gift from outreach visitors.

“My glass jars that were going in the recycling bin are now going to farmers out west. Value is such a personal thing,” says Helen
 

Spare Harvest is for everyone
The Spare Harvest website now has 1000 members. Membership is free for individuals and community groups and it only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. A paid business membership is also available for food and garden related businesses.

Redland Bay, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast regions currently have the most members but Helen has big plans for Spare Harvest to go global.

“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 there,” 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 connecting children with the story of how their food is grown.

“There is greater awareness now around food waste but without an action there is no value in that awareness,” Helen says.

“With Spare Harvest, we are reducing our waste footprint as a community. It might be one less orange, or one less glass jar in the bin. One small action collectively combined makes a massive impact.”


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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