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This is what happens to some left over fruit and veg on Kent's farms

By Oliver Kemp

Hundreds of kilograms of fruit has been saved from going to waste from farms in Kent, as fears continue many children could go hungry over the summer holidays.

The Kent Gleaning Network visited Selson Farm near Sandwich and spent the day working through the cherry orchard to salvage fruit the farm could not sell to supermarkets.

It is common for some food to be wasted due to supermarket standards and customer preferences.

David Bradley, the farmer in charge of the orchards, said: “We’re not quite sure if it’s their quality control people pushing it or if the consumer only wants a certain thing. It’s a bit of both I think.

“The variety that we’re picking is not that popular, and there are better cherries out there.

"So with the number of pickers I’ve got it’s a case of the best use of their time.”

The cherries picked by the volunteers were sent to a number of different organisations including Deal’s Trussell Trust food bank, Hythe Environmental Group and Our Kitchen in Thanet.

These cherries would be left to rot
These cherries would be left to rot

Carrie Eeles, Kent Gleaning Network co-ordinator, said ‘gleaning’ is a biblical term.

“Once the main harvest is done, traditionally the peasants and local community would be invited in to gather the rest of the crop,” she said.

If the group had not visited the farm, the farmer would have to employ more people to drop the fruit from the trees and then crushed into the ground or composted.

The network of volunteers rescue all kinds of fruit and vegetables from farms during the summer and autumn periods, including potatoes, kale and broccoli.

Over 20 volunteers joined the pick
Over 20 volunteers joined the pick

Steve Wakeford, part of the Deal With It environmental group, said stopping waste and helping people in need is what makes gleaning farms and fields across the county so important.

“We should be sourcing more of our food locally rather than importing all around the world,” he said.

“People are in need of food in Deal and this is a way of actually meeting that need.”

Food banks and charities could be stretched to breaking point this summer as they try to keep children from going hungry in the summer holidays.

The Trussell Trust revealed more than 14,000 food bank parcels were given out to adults and children in Kent during the school holidays in 2018, a 14% increase from the previous year’s summer holiday.

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