Fresh take on produce

Building community. . . St Peter’s College teachers Jules and Will Byars are co-ordinating a FoodTogether scheme where people buy wholesale fruit and vegetable boxes. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

There are many wins with a new wholesale fruit and vegetable scheme which has started in Gore.

The scheme is being organised by St Peter’s College teachers Will and Jules Byars with the help of the Gore Salvation Army Corps staff.

The couple are using the Foodtogether model set up by Christchurch Anglican vicar Craig Dixon more than 30 years ago.

Produce is bought in bulk and then sold wholesale.

Mr Byars said the Foodtogether model provided the platform for the scheme including the ordering, sourcing and delivering of produce and promoting the service.

People ordered what size box of produce they wanted on a Tuesday and the food was delivered to the Salvation Army building on a Thursday.

There were three sizes of produce boxes available.

Salvation Army community ministries navigator Michelle Chirnside, who oversees the food bank, organised volunteers to divide up the produce so orders could be collected.

Any leftover produce was given to the foodbank and the minimal profit given to charity.

‘‘Making a profit is not the end goal. ‘‘Providing fresh, affordable veges is the main goal,’’ Mr Byars said.

‘‘I love the idea that Salvation Army’s helping us with this and we are actually giving back to the Salvation Army,’’ Mrs Byars said.

‘‘It feels like a real win-win.’’

There seemed to be a need for cheaper produce at this time with inflation driving up prices more than 20%, Mr Byars said.

The more people who took part in the scheme the better.

‘‘The more we buy bulk, the better the discount and the more everybody benefits.’’

The scheme was also about building relationships.

‘‘Part of the mission of Foodtogether is to create community connections.

‘‘The more ways we can do that the better.’’

Mr Byars had always been keen on being part of a cooperative.

‘‘I’ve always thought it would be great to have a co-op cafe or co-op bakery.’’

However, both options would be a big time commitment when they were working fulltime.

When the couple heard about Foodtogether it was a perfect option.

‘‘We thought boom, this is exactly what we’re looking to do,’’ he said.

While the food was fresh, it came from Invercargill.

Once the scheme was established it would be good to source the produce locally, Mrs Byars said.

In the first week 52 people ordered produce boxes.

She was at the Salvation Army when people called in to collect them.

‘‘It just felt very relaxed and that feeling of real community-centred, which I really liked.’’

Ms Chirnside had received positive feedback.

‘‘The produce is very fresh and top quality.’’