This month we partner with the Society of St. Andrew. The Society of St. Andrew is a national organization "gleaning America's fields" to feed the hungry. Volunteer groups will arrive at our sweet potato farm after harvest to gather what remains of the crops. Our leftover sweet potatoes will be used to feed food insecure families and children!
All of North Carolina's 100 counties are affected by food insecurity, and our state has one of the highest numbers of food insecure individuals under the age of 18. A tremendous amount of food is left behind in fields annually. With the right efforts and timely attention, the leftover crops can help provide nourishment for those in need.
Gathering stray sweet potatoes to feed the hungry is no small effort. The Society of St. Andrew volunteers may arrive in groups of 100 and scour the fields for produce. Our farm crews leave behind misshapen sweet potatoes during harvest. Some sweet potatoes are too long or too small, and these are abandoned as well. These sweet potatoes either pose storage disadvantages, or are unmarketable as the odd shapes are traditionally overlooked by consumers.
After the volunteers gather the sweet potatoes, they focus on Operation Veggie Box. During this phase, they re-pack the hand-picked sweet potatoes in veggie care packages that are then shipped off to food pantries.
The Society of St. Andrew volunteer efforts will be a significant help in recovering the excess produce in our fields. However, this new partnership is a one-time annual labor and our Boyette Brothers family and team want to reduce waste all year long. We have worked year-round with Operation Blessing International, a non-profit humanitarian organization that provides food assistance, since April 2016. Throughout the year our farm crews wash extra sweet potatoes and prep them for pick-up. Operation Blessing collects truckloads of Boyette Brothers' sweet potatoes as food pantry donations. Boyette Brothers has since donated more than 210,000 lbs. of sweet potatoes!
While it is not viable to operate an entirely zero waste farm, Boyette Brothers' goal is to move as close as possible to the lowest waste operations. We plan to modify our farming practices and create more partnerships like the ones we've developed with the Society of St. Andrew and Operation Blessing. Please get in touch with our family farm if you are or know of another entity we can partner with to help reduce food waste and feed those in need. We would love to connect!