Square Roots sources imperfect produce from growers and provides bundles at affordable prices in low-income areas. Saint Mary’s University’s Enactus organization has been working on the program in the Halifax-Dartmouth area and recently visited the Truro Farmers’ Market in an effort to source more fruits and vegetables.
“It would be ideal to have this expand across Nova Scotia, and Truro has so much farm land nearby I see it as logical to move in that area,” said Christine Ingham, one of the project managers. “We’re looking for farms willing to sell produce and for franchise managers.”
Franchise managers receive training through Enactus Saint Mary’s so they are able to build and maintain relationships with producers and customers, sort produce bundles and arrange drop-off locations. Ten-pound bundles are sold for $5 or $10, depending on what a person can afford, and usually consist of potatoes, apples, onions and one or two other seasonal vegetables. People can also sponsor bundles for others.
There is also a Square Roots token program, with tokens sold for $5 being redeemable for a meal made from surplus ingredients from partnering restaurants.
“Nova Scotia has the highest food insecurity and food waste rates in Canada,” said Ingham. “Sometimes vegetables grow in weird shapes or apples are too big and they go to waste. We’ve had great feedback so far. I find this is so simple I wonder why it didn’t already exist.
“Since I’ve become involved with the project I’ve also become much more aware of my own food waste.”
The hope is that the Square Roots program will eventually become a fully sustainable business.
Square Roots was launched in November 2016 and has distributed more than 12,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables since then.
Enactus is a student leadership organization that tries to solve environmental, social and economic issues through entrepreneurial action.
More information be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the website at squarerootsfood.ca