When it comes to helping others, many people and businesses ‘talk the talk’ but few ‘walk the walk’. This cannot be said of the Cornish business, Southern Cornish Farms, which is leading the charge in the fight against poverty. The farm has given a staggering 396 tonnes of surplus produce to the FareShare charity ‘Surplus with Purpose’ scheme, resulting in enough produce for just under a million meals*.
Southern England Farms (SEF), based in Hayle, West Cornwall, began donating its surplus vegetables to FareShare in 2019. Now, co-owner Jane Richards (below), along with her 400-plus pickers, works with the charity to ensure any excess vegetables never go to waste.
Her farms, made up of over 6,500 acres, are a key supplier to several major retailers in the UK, including a number of supermarkets, of Cornish-grown courgettes, cauliflower, broccoli, spring greens, sweetheart and savoy cabbage.
Jane now sees her partnership with FareShare as a passion project and urges other food producers to come on board, too.
Jane Richards of Southern England Farms said, “No farmer ever wants to see their produce go to waste. But sometimes circumstances mean there is a surplus that will often go into the waste trailer or simply become compost.
“The scheme with FareShare is a brilliant way of ensuring excess produce is redistributed to those who really need it. It is so very rewarding when we find out how many meals our surplus veg has gone on to make.
She added, “It is great that NFU Mutual has embraced the scheme so wholeheartedly and supports their customers who wish to participate with ‘Surplus with Purpose’ too.”
The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust supports FareShare’s fight against food poverty and, since 2021, has donated a total of £250,000 to the charity.
FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity and, in 2022-2023, redistributed 54,000 tonnes of food, enough to make 128 million meals. That’s the equivalent of four meals every second.
The charity’s ‘Surplus with Purpose’ scheme supports businesses across the food industry, from growers to manufacturers and wholesalers, with the cost of redistributing unsold produce and preparing unfinished surplus food for redistribution.
Ian Maddever, Senior Agent for NFU Mutual Cornwall East Central & South East, said, “We applaud Jane and all the team at Southern England Farms for their outstanding efforts in supporting the work FareShare does to alleviate food poverty in our communities. Currently, over 13 million people in the UK are facing food insecurity.
“NFU Mutual believes no one should go hungry and is committed to taking action where possible. There are many growers and farmers often in a similar position to Jane and who want to see their own surplus produce to feed those in need.”
Pooja Shah, Commercial Manager at FareShare, added, “Receiving a regular supply of fresh fruit and veg is vitally important to the charities and community groups we support. By providing FareShare with their surplus food, Southern England Farms has found a smart solution to manage their food waste that provides enormous benefits to those who are most vulnerable.”
To find out more about FareShare’s Surplus with a Purpose scheme, visit www.fareshare.org. For information on NFU Mutual and its community support initiatives, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk.
*SEF has donated 396 tonnes of excess produce (944,542 meals in total).
Read more business news and features here.