Through our growing relationship with OzHarvest, we sat down with Amy Cobb, Queensland State Manager, to gather her thoughts on Modular Farms and why it is important to work with businesses creating sustainable solutions for our food system.
- How does OzHarvest collect excess food from Modular Farms? How frequently?
One of our bright yellow vans swings past Modular Farms once a week to collect delicious leafy greens and herbs. The charities we provide food to love receiving healthy greens.
- What happens after the food is collected from Modular Farms? How is food sorted and who receives it?
We rescue the produce and it will either go out with our Food Rescue Drivers straight to the charities we support or we use the leafy greens in our corporate engagement program Cooking For A Cause, where corporate teams prepare nourishing warm meals. The meals are then packaged up and sent out to charities and people requiring food relief. In Brisbane, our vans deliver food to over 100 different local community groups, schools and charities.
- Is it common to have farmers contributing fresh, unprocessed and raw produce to OzHarvest? Is this important? If yes, how?
OzHarvest receives food donations from a variety of food donors; from supermarkets, small cafes, restaurants, caters, wholesalers and producers. The fresh, unprocessed and raw produce we receive from farmers and local producers is integral to our mission to Nourish our Country – as it’s wholesome, healthy, and fresh. We measure and weigh all of the food we collect so we can ensure the best nutritional mix of the food we collect each month. Fresh vegetables, meat and diary are always high in demand, and so the produce we receive from Modular Farms and other producers is incredibly important in providing healthy and nutritional meals to vulnerable people.
- Have you had a chance to see Modular Farms Australia in action? What are your thoughts about vertical farming? Is there a benefit to OzHarvest in being linked to AgTech?
I was amazed to see the Modular Farm in action – the volume, quality and variety of produce that can be grown inside such a small space is just incredible. There is just so much potential inside one module to grow exceptionally high-quality produce. It’s a great solution to help repair our strained food system. Our CEO and Founder Ronni Kahn visited the farm a few months ago – she is so passionate about supporting local farmers and innovation!
As a for impact organisation working to reduce food waste, we often receive donations from farmers who have an oversupply of produce, due to the weather conditions, order changes or inefficiencies in the supply chain. Modular Farms is exciting as the produce is grown in a very calculated and measured way, it isn’t impacted by weather events and doesn’t require huge amounts of water or energy to grow the produce.
- Do you think we will be seeing more AgTech partnering up with environmentally focused charity groups? Why? What areas in Australia might benefit from vertical farming?
Innovation is in OzHarvest’s DNA and we love partnering with businesses like Modular Farms that are working to provide sustainable solutions to our food system. Australia could benefit enormously from urban vertical farming to reduce food miles, save space and grow food with minimal resources in high density areas typically void of growing and farms. In addition, we would love to see the farms in regional Australia where access to fresh food can be limited, particularly in times of drought or severe weather.
- What is OzHarvest doing to expand its footprint in Queensland? What is Modular Farms’ role in this?
We’ve had incredible growth in Queensland over the last 12 months. OzHarvest went from seven vehicles serving South East Queensland to 13 refrigerated vehicles supporting communities as far south as Coolangatta and north to Cairns.
We now have seven bright yellow vehicles in Brisbane, three at the Gold Coast and vehicles in Cairns, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.
We are on track to deliver 4.5 million meals to vulnerable Queenslanders in this financial year, adding up to a total of 15 million meals in Queensland since our first van arrived in the state in 2011.
- Both Modular Farms Australia and Oz Harvest value the importance of feeding local communities, how do you see your relationship with Modular Farms moving forward?
We’re so proud of the wonderful friendship we’ve developed with Modular Farms and we are excited to work together to nourish our country. We do have an exciting collaboration opportunity coming up…. Watch this space!
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