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Less Food Waste Through Sharing

A community that connects and shares to create a world with less food waste.

Photo of Helen Andrew
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Spare Harvest

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

We facilitate multi-stakeholder communities by connecting individuals to work together to reduce waste and consumption. We also work with local businesses to engage their employees to connect and share what they have spare in their kitchens and gardens with their colleagues and we have started to have conversations with local governments to introduce Spare Harvest to their residents. Our collaborators include Local Councils, Food and Agribusiness Network, Innovation Centre, Social Enterprise Network and local businesses such as Novotel Resort Sunshine Coast.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Sunshine Coast

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Sunshine Coast

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Sunshine is the birthplace of Spare Harvest and the home of our founder and the team that have extensive links to the community.  Spare Harvest is one of the founders of the local Social Enterprise Network and it's founder Helen represents the region as a locally elected Board Member of the state peak body for Social Enterprises.  We are professionally and personally invested in the Sunshine Coast region.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Sunshine Coast is widely acknowledged as a highly desirable place to live, work and play with abundant natural resources and a unique lifestyle.

Located in South East Queensland (SEQ), with our southern boundary just 53 kilometers north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast covers an area of 2291 square kilometers or %.2% of the state of Queensland.  It is considered a major urban and economic center, an emerging city-region and an aspirational place to live.  

It has a strong reputation as a lifestyle region defined by its subtropical climate, picturesque coastline and beaches, extensive waterways and wetlands, and the hinterland mountain ranges. The natural environment and distinct landscapes are the foundations of the Sunshine Coast way of life.

The Sunshine Coast is home to 328,030 residents with 8108 people choosing to make the Sunshine Coast home in the past year.  20 percent were born overseas and 23per cent have parents born overseas.

The majority of residents live within established urban centers along the coast. While all age groups are well represented within the Sunshine Coast’s population, the most common age group is those 45 to 49 years and their children.

The Sunshine Coast economy ($18.5 billion) is one of the largest regional economies in Australia and has achieved an average growth rate of over four percent, well above the national rate of economic growth (National Institute of Economic and Industry Research, 2019; ABS, 2018).

The Sunshine Coast is experiencing strong economic and employment growth that exceeds national and state averages; continuing high levels of business confidence; a renewed focus on the arts, cultural experiences, and events; nationally recognized programs and an expansive agenda to preserve and expand our natural assets; and commitments to ensure the region is well placed to respond to the challenges presented by a changing climate.

Rich soils and favorable climatic conditions, together with a clean water supply make the Sunshine Coast the perfect foodies location.  Many residents are keen gardeners and grow some of the food they consume.  Not only do we experience an abundance of food but we also experience excessive consumption and waste.

The Sunshine Coast’s food and agribusiness industry is characterized by a diverse range of sectors including horticulture, dairy, and specialty dairy production, seafood, nurseries, and value- add producers. 

The industry is valued at $700 million, with more than 900 businesses located on the Sunshine Coast with residents supporting local farmer's markets and local food businesses.  The agribusiness industry is becoming increasingly entrepreneurial and focused on value-adding with linkages to manufacturing, education, retail, and tourism.

The Sunshine Coast is fast developing a reputation as one of Australia's premier food-growing regions.  Sunshine Coast is yet to realize its potential as one of the world's best food producing regions in terms of quality and local access to a variety of fresh produce and personalized food products.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The global cost of food waste is estimated to be almost $1 trillion a year with consumers contributing one-third of all food wasted.  Wasted food also wastes water, gasoline, energy, labor, pesticides, land and fertilizers used to make our food.  According to the United Nations, 31% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced as a result of food waste dumped in landfills across the world.  Needlessly contributing to global warming and the climate crisis.  

Growing population and associated food consumption is fuelling biodiversity loss on an unprecedented scale, with 40% of the world's once-forested land now cleared for human agriculture and settlements.  The ability to transport food cheaply has increased our environmental footprint of the food we consume as more developed countries import more.

While we are wasting food, killing our biodiversity the FAO estimates that 815 million people are experiencing chronic undernourishment. 

The Research company Technavio expects the food waste management sector to grow by more than $8bn between 2019 and 2023.  Individuals can play a significant role in managing food waste by activating the top tiers of the waste hierarchy; reduce, reuse and repurpose.

On a local level, Australian households waste food to the value of $8 billion each year producing an estimated 6.8 million tones of carbon dioxide.

With increased population growth expected at 54%, the Sunshine Coast will feel the pressure to support this growth in terms of diversity, social inclusion, food production, waste management, and infrastructure.  In such a blessed place we also have many people who are homeless, unemployed and experiencing food insecurity.

The protection of rural, landscape and natural areas underpin the character and lifestyle of the Sunshine Coast and provide areas of important environmental, economic, tourism, recreational and landscape opportunities.

There are trade-offs to be made in managing growth. The more the urban area continues to spread outwards into rural areas, this will place increased pressure to preserve land that is currently used for food production.  

The Sunshine Coast is blessed with 93% of its area rural.  That’s 27, 481 lots that can contribute to growing food to be consumed locally.  Individual consumers are becoming more aware of how fragile our food system and would be willing to contribute.  

We are also experiencing the impacts of climate change with reduced rainfall, increased damaging storms and higher temperatures which impacts the regular supply of edible food into the supply chain.

The Sunshine Coast is also a major food exporter to several Asian countries.  We expect to see our exports increase as Asian countries also experience increased population growth placing additional pressure on our local food production.

We are also challenged with the retirement of our aging farmers that don't have succession plans for the continued production of food on their land.

Food security is under threat in both developed and developing countries because of overconsumption, inefficient agriculture methods, a culture of waste, increased population growth, environmental factors, and biodiversity loss.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Imagine a decentralized food system.  A system that activates farmers, businesses, and individuals to contribute to a truly local food system that is resilient and builds social capital.

Imagine a food system that directly connects us to the people who grew our food, to the people who process it and to the people who manage the food waste in a sustainable way.  Spare Harvest exists to connect people in their local community to exchange what they have spare in their kitchens and gardens.  To create a platform that facilitates collaboration between people that makes a social and environmental impact.  To facilitate a food system connected, sustainable, personalized and local.

As the Sunshine Coast continues to grow, rural lands will come under increasing pressure from urban uses and climate change. Changes in the agriculture industry and other global issues including climate change and peak oil will affect primary production and other rural industries.  Innovation and best practice in relation to farming, value-adding, transport, marketing, and land management will become increasingly important.

It’s time for individuals to start contributing and supporting our declining farmers to build a more resilient local food system.  There are immense opportunities to encourage residents to create micro-social enterprises that support them and give them meaning and connection to their community.

Local governments and community organizations have an opportunity to engage and support consumers of all walks of life to contribute and receive the benefits of a truly local food system.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

We, humans, are eating away at our own life support systems at an unprecedented rate.  Our finite resources are slipping away while we consume more than we need and waste more than we use.  This is not sustainable, we are living beyond our means, and we don’t have a planet B.

Resources like water, energy, money and time are invested in growing our food. Then energy and money are spent to transport it for us to purchase it, yet households are wasting between 30-40% of all the food purchased.  This needless waste is not limited to food; we waste many food and garden resources.

We live in abundant times, but this will not last as we recklessly disregard how our behaviors are affecting our planet and its people.  We are experiencing unprecedented rates of mental health as we disconnect with ourselves and each other, while we trash our planet with unnecessary consumption of virgin resources and waste.

We believe in building a community to works together to face these challenges, as individuals we can do our little bit and collectively we make a massive impact.  An impact that brings us together to achieve a common goal of living a more sustainable life.

It’s time to value and respect this amazing abundance by ensuring we consume and waste less to minimize our impact on our planet.   When we connect and share what we have spare in our kitchens and gardens with each other, we ensure these valuable resources are more efficiently used and not wasted.

So, our commitment to connect the consumers to new sources of local food that is grown in their local communities.  It’s time we shared our abundance and healed our planet.  

Living a more sustainable life is our impact.  A life that values our finite resources and the people using them.  It’s time that humans connected with each other to ensure our environment thrives and continues to provide for our existence.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision is a connected world without waste.  Valuing and sharing our abundance so the wellbeing of our planet and its people thrives.

Environment – our environment is the source of all life, it sustains us through the eco-systems it creates and protects and produces the food that sustains us.  When we waste food, we not only waste all the inputs that our planet provides but we produce toxic greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.  Methane is 23X more potent than carbon dioxide and contributes approximately 11 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.   To protect the environment, we need to review our current food systems so it values our finite resources and produces no waste.

Culture – is about people and there is only one thing that brings people together – food.  We have a large multi-cultural community that grows and prepares foods with a variety of ingredients that are grown in backyard gardens and hobby farms.  Our community is rich in culture and we have an opportunity to invite them in an build a truly local food system.

Diets – today 75 percent of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and 5 animal species.  We have lost diversity in our diets and compromised our nutritional wellbeing.  Yet in homes across the world and on the Sunshine Coast we have a variety of foods grown in home gardens, some very old heritage varieties that when shared can broaden our tastes and diets.  

 Economics – Imagine if we shared our food wealth.  In every community, there are people who have and those who do not.  It’s time we connect them to build social resilience and support their economic situation.  Economic is not limited to the economy, we can create a local food system that provides personal economic value to all residents.  Providing food charity is not sustainable, equitable or human, we need to develop a food system that is empowering and equitable.  A truly local food system that engages all stakeholders to share the abundance with those in need without sacrificing their pride.

Technology – there has been substantial investment in our current food system.  We have at times used technology to overcomplicate the food system; to fit in broken systems when the real opportunity is to change the system.  Why do we need to have technology that keeps food in storage for months and survives transport?  Let’s source food that is ripe and picked at it’s more nutritionally rich.  That is transported locally and not across the work.  Let’s use technology to eat seasonally, grow locally more efficiently and support growers of all kinds.  We use technology to replicate and scale our solution to all the corners of the planet.  Our technology is an enabler that anyone, in any community in any part of the globe can use to reduce their individual waste footprint.

Policy – The food system and the amount of food waste generated is born by many stakeholders; consumers, producers, companies and government.  As policy-makers worldwide respond to a rising tide of climate activism and extreme weather events, the concept of the circular economy has become a key lever in the climate action tool kit.  According to the World Economic Forum currently, only 9% of the global economy is circular at present and could be a $4.5 trillion business opportunity.  As an active participant in the circular economy, it’s time to broaden our definition of stakeholders to include consumers in an active way unlike how we currently view them in a passive way.  There are 367,180 residents of the Sunshine Coast who we can engage to actively participate in developing their local food system.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

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An opportunity for organizations to engage their workforce to connect and share what they have spare with each other. Let's change what CSR and employee wellbeing programs look like.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kylie Newberry

Hi Helen, it's fantastic to see a submission from Spare Harvest! It's so exciting to read your vision for 2050. I wish you all the best with it and really hope our paths cross again soon.

Photo of Helen Andrew

Hey Kylie,

Lovely to connect on this platform. Let's try and connect in person soon.


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