Ever wondered what happens to all the old and spoiled fruit and veggies that we rescue from supermarkets that don’t meet our quality standards for food relief?

For many years the green waste was sorted, separated and passed onto farmers to feed their animals, or sent for use at a local worm farm. 

But since December 2022 we’ve been generating too much of the valuable resource – so we’ve started using it ourselves and have since turned it into 6,240kg of compost!

It’s now helping us to grow fresh, local produce as part of our VicHealth supported Grow Cook Share Food Hub project – our latest multi-year initiative to strengthen our local food system through making fresh and healthy food more accessible to more people.

 Since the Grow Cook Share project was launched in January 2023 we’ve:

  • employed two young people to increase their skills in the food system
  • helped launch a new weekly produce market
  • scaled up our urban farming at Golden Gums Farm.

 According to Bendigo Foodshare’s Urban Farm & Grow a Row Coordinator Steve Smith, generating our own compost has been a win-win. 

“This has turned-out to be a really high-end way of dealing with the food waste in our warehouse – turning it into a high-end product,” he said.

 “We’re growing seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruit at Golden Gums Farm to be sold at The Old Church Growers Market, local hospitality venues and provided into food relief – and we knew our work would be enhanced thanks to compost that’s further helping to reduce food waste.

“Having rich, nutrient-filled compost is important to having delicious produce.” 

A highlight of our Grow Cook Share project has been our new team members Ethan and Toyah, both aged 18, learning about the local food system – including being part of the creating our compost. 

The compost has also been shared with Long Gully Neighbourhood Centre, a group that’s undertaking a power of work supporting their community to grow and eat fresh and healthy food, as well as supporting our work.

“From our gardening community’s perspective, it’s an ideal relationship, already sharing our produce with Bendigo Foodshare, and in return receiving compostable to economically improve the quantity and quality of our fruit and vegetables,” Jonathan Ridnell, Long Gully Neighbourhood Centre’s Garden Facilitator said.

“Our gardening community is really pleased to see the quality of our onsite composting improve because of the inputs delivered by Bendigo Foodshare.”

 Generating our own compost is another way Bendigo Foodshare is working within our local circular economy, making sure that we’re contributing positively to our local food system.

And, Steve says there are plans to expand it even further. 

“We’re looking at different options for the program’s future, such as incorporating a worm farm,” he said.

“A standard, essential part of a good market garden and a good food hub is having good, healthy compost to make healthy soil – and this has been a real treat.”