The Community Center of Ors in the city of Romans-Sur-Isère (Drôme – France) has launched an initiative to collect unsold fruit and vegetables from local farmers while raising community awareness around better eating habits. The project: a mobile solidary cannery in a truck!
On board this truck is a fruit and vegetable washing workshop, a transforming station and a preserving agent for long-term food preservation. This vehicle travels to the area’s organic and eco-friendly producers to make optimum use of unsold or surplus produce.
Collection hikes are organized with residents on the growers’ premises. The fruit and vegetables are transformed into canned food by the residents themselves, in the neighborhoods, village squares or during markets. They then leave with their own culinary creations, including compotes, coulis, ratatouille, pickles and fruit in syrup.
The Cannery is a public awareness tool to encourage a healthy, local diet. This is a practical example of the local distribution concept and makes a rural–urban link. The residents learn about all the crops grown nearby and become more aware of local growers. They also realize that making canned food means less sugar and salt, that no preservatives or freezers are needed and that there’s less waste!
Nearly 700 people have peeled, washed and cooked fruit and vegetables, transferred them to jars, sterilized them, and prepared and tasted around 20 recipes! All age groups and social categories have been involved, including kids, teens, students, vulnerable people, families and retirement home residents.
The Cannery project is helping to establish links between regions and residents from different walks of life. It’s also mobilizing and connecting a host of economic and social players in the region:
- the growers who are looking to make optimum use of their unsold produce,
- the welfare centers which are always seeking out social events such as cookery workshops, and
- local industry for the design and manufacture of the truck–kitchen–laboratory!
The truck and events are a source of pride for the volunteers at Romans-Sur-Isère’s three welfare centers (The Community Center of Ors, Saint Nicolas and Noël-Guichard). Together they’re leading the project which is:
- bringing producers and consumers together,
- encouraging healthy, local, responsible eating habits,
- helping residents to understand and know what they’re eating,
- maximizing regional resources and individual truck farming,
- reducing food waste,
- raising taste and cost awareness,
- promoting rural–urban links,
- allowing participants to work with collective intelligence.
This initiative was rewarded during the 8th ESS Lyon Trophy (the Coup de Coeur Trophy of the Social and Solidarity Economy) in 2017.
This project was supported by the Louis Bonduelle Foundation during its winter 2017/2018 call for proposals.