Bootle community group in glean up and clean up mission

A COMMUNITY group from Bootle has received a funding boost to help stop unused food from going to waste by foraging and gleaning local farms and fields.

Taking Root, a project of Stanley Road-based Regenerus, has received almost £8000 from the Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority Community Fund for The Big Community Glean Up – a project which is looking to stop food waste and to ensure good food gets into the hands of those who need it the most.

The word ‘glean’ is an old Celtic word which means to gather or scrape together and refers to the practice of going over the fields after harvest to collect any grain the farmer may have missed. Regenerus are working with the national organisation Feedback Global and farmers in Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and Lancashire to ensure that the produce farms don’t sell isn’t wasted. Instead, with the permission of the landowner or farmer, volunteers are able to pick fresh fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be disposed of or left to rot.

As part of the Big Community Glean Up volunteers are shown how to successfully forage for the food at farms, as well as community gardens and public spaces, then learn about the different ways to preserve and cook the produce at food workshops.

Ruth Livesey, Business Development Manager at Regenerus, said: “So far in November we have gleaned cabbage, cauliflowers, winter veg, onions and pumpkins.  Due to Covid-19 safety restrictions we have had to change our plans a little and go to fields in small groups rather than the minibus of volunteers we originally intended. However, the end result has been the same – the fresh produce we glean is distributed to local residents with the help of South Sefton Foodbank and community organisations back in Bootle where it is eaten and enjoyed.”

Councillor Tony Concepcion, Chairperson of MRWA, said: “The whole idea behind the Community Fund is that there are local groups out there delivering recycling, reuse and waste prevention projects on the ground that we ourselves wouldn’t be able to. Using their knowledge of the subject and local areas they can make a real impact on people’s lives for the better. The Big Community Glean Up by Renegerus is a great example of this.”

Ruth Livesey, Business Development Manager at Regenerus, continued: “We are looking forward to 2021 when we will hopefully be able to take larger groups along to our gleaning expeditions, and bring back lots more fresh food which we will be sharing out at our community cook and eat events.”