Orange trees lend splashes of color to her garden. Year after year, after filling the neighborhood with the fragrance of their blossoms, they grow heavy with fruit, waiting to be harvested. Zina Angelopoulou, a 36-year-old teacher from Athens, moved with her family to the quiet village of Kokkoni on the outskirts of Corinth 10 years ago to take up orange farming. She produces juice, pies, marmalade and all manner of sweets made from the fruit. “But no matter how many we consume there will always be a surplus and we are forced to throw some away. Isn’t that a pity?” she told Kathimerini.
Angelopoulou was one of the first farmers to take part in the “Boroume” (Yes, We Can) campaign aimed at reducing waste from agricultural production. She approached the organizers behind the initiative and asked them, “Instead of letting my oranges go to waste, could we give them to those who need them?” Within a few hours the volunteers got to work. They gathered Angelopoulou’s spare oranges and moved them to the premises of Children’s Ark, a nongovernmental organization that helps families in need and which is currently running a program to support the Roma community in Examilia in Corinth.
A huge amount of agricultural produce goes to waste across Greece every day. According to international research, around 30 percent of the world’s agricultural produce ends up in the dump, either because it does not satisfy strict market requirements concerning the appearance of the product or because the cost of collecting it outweighs the benefits for the producer. The waste is so great that a movement is growing rapidly in other parts of the world known as “gleaning” and aimed at utilizing the production surplus for the benefit of the poor. In a similar manner, the Boroume program has managed to bring the food waste in cities under control by creating a network that collects unsold food from restaurants and distributes it to families in need, and is currently attempting to increase its impact out in the fields.
Boroume member Alexia Moatsou explains the procedure. After being approached by an interested farmer, the members of the program get the volunteers together and select the charity organization that will receive the products. Such organizations include institutions, retirement homes and soup kitchens that are located close to the farm. “Producers and anyone else who owns even a few trees but is not going to use all of the produce should get in touch with us. Fresh fruits and vegetables are particularly important for people in need,” she added.
“It is such a pity to throw anything away, especially food,” said Angelopoulou. “The volunteers were quick and efficient; they gathered the fruit and within a few hours it had reached children in need.”