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Cornish farmer praised for donating 400 tonnes of surplus produce

A Cornish farmer has been praised for donating nearly 400 tonnes of surplus produce to a food waste charity, resulting in enough produce for just under a million meals.

Southern England Farms (SEF), based in Hayle, began donating its surplus vegetables to FareShare's ‘Surplus with Purpose’ scheme in 2019.


Now co-owner Jane Richards, 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 vegetable supplier to several major retailers in the UK.


Jane now sees her partnership with FareShare as a passion project and urges other food producers to come on board too.


“No farmer ever wants to see their produce go to waste," she said, "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."


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.


The charity’s ‘Surplus with Purpose’ scheme supports businesses across the food industry, from growers to manufacturers and wholesalers.


Currently, over 13 million people in the UK are facing food insecurity.


Ian Maddever, senior agent for NFU Mutual Cornwall, which supports the scheme, said many farmers waned to see their own surplus produce feed those in need.


“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.


“NFU Mutual believes no one should go hungry and is committed to take action where possible."


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 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.”


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