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Feed the farm: Revelstoke food recovery program goes beyond people

Since 2016, almost 300,000 kilograms of food fed people and farm animals instead of becoming trash

Graham Harper empties buckets into his homemade cement compost bins. He sorts through coffee grounds, squishy mangoes and mouldy oranges. Finally, Harper finds what he’s looking for, setting aside several apples and lettuce heads.

“These are perfect,” he said.

Past his home, beyond the chicken coop, buzzing beehive and behind an electric fence are three piglets — Midnight, Teacup and Brave. The trio rush to Harper when he opens the gate, snorting in excitement. It’s dinner time.

“They love fruit and anything green,” said Harper, as he tosses the produce. A couple of times a week, Harper gets food for the animals from the Revelstoke Food Recovery Program.

The program collects leftover food from grocery stores and restaurants. Instead of sending the items to the landfill, they are distributed through 25 different agencies in Revelstoke including the food bank, the women’s shelter and the school district’s breakfast program.

Since the program started in 2016, it has diverted almost 300,000 kilograms of food from the landfill. Of that, approximately 20 per cent has gone to farm animals.

“Food is a valuable commodity. Let’s at least do something with it instead of throwing it away,” said Harper.

The program in Revelstoke was one of the first of its kind in the province. In recent years, other communities have followed our lead by creating similar projects, such as Chilliwack.

READ MORE: Revelstoke’s Food Recovery program ahead of the times

Harper also takes expired canned goods from the food bank, mixing them to make a slurry for his pigs. Harper said it isn’t a new phenomenon using up all available food scraps.

“One hundred years ago, nothing would have been wasted. Everything would be re-used as humans have been recycling for hundreds of years.”

Across the Columbia River near the airport, Sara Baird is another recipient of the food recovery program.

“It’s one of the best programs I’ve seen. It’s incredible,” said Baird.

She prefers to grow and raise her own food as she also keeps pigs. Her yard is nestled with berry bushes, between apple and pear trees behind long rows of leafy greens.

“Hunting and farming are in our blood. It’s one of the best skills to teach our kids,” she said. “We’re not wealthy, but we’re rich in life.”

Hannah Whitney, the outreach coordinator at Community Connections that runs the food recovery program, said it’s great to see how many ways there are to use food before it becomes garbage.

For example, if food isn’t fit for human consumption, it can still go to a farm. If it’s mouldy, it can go to compost. If there are items left over, which is rare said Whitney, then it may become trash.

“Usually, everything has a use.”

The food recovery program plans to keep growing said, Whitney. Eventually, Community Connections would like to even have its own garden.

READ MORE: Mt. Begbie Brewery creates bread beer from food waste

The food bank is open on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesdays 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays at 11 a.m. to noon. It’s located at 416 Second St. West.

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