Sharing is caring ... the sentiments of Katikati's Val Baker and the team who pick up fruit and vegetables from a wholesaler in Tauranga that would otherwise go to landfill, to share with locals in the community.

For the last three years Val has been picking up fruit and vegetables that have passed their use-by date, to feed 135 head of stock and pigs on the family farm.

"We did it as a backload situation when delivering palings into Tauranga."

Val says when we went into lockdown in March, there were a lot of wholesalers that had previous orders, but people couldn't collect them and they needed somewhere to get rid of it.

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"Nobody was able to buy it and it affected the wholesalers to a large degree. I felt for them so when asked, we went over with three vehicles to collect the extra."

The farm has since been sold and Val's moved into town, so she's filling the gap by sharing the produce with needy people in the community.

Her brother Dave Baker also feeds the produce to his drystock and Val uses some to feed the birds that belonged to her late mother.

"Then we started sharing the food with the local marae and foodbank."

Frontiersman Ross Vaile, who drives the truck voluntarily, takes some of the produce to a rest home and to the RSA Village and Dave makes sure some goes to the Vanuatuans.

Ross Vaile, volunteer driver of the Legion of Frontiersmen food truck.
Ross Vaile, volunteer driver of the Legion of Frontiersmen food truck.

"None of the produce is sold, we give it away to the community, a bit like foodbank.

"We give it to those we know will share it, and spread it round to those who need it. It's another community thing we do within the Legion."

Val says you never know when or what you're going to get each time.

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"It's a bit of a lucky dip, whatever comes home on the truck."

At one stage over lockdown Val says they had heaps of watermelons, which the cows loved.

"Another time we got loads of grapes and the cows were chasing the truck down the race, they enjoyed them so much. Another time we had 1500 punnets of strawberries. Most of the empty cardboard boxes are recycled.

When I visited last Friday, Ross had brought back 56 boxes of bananas and crates of watermelon. Pickups and deliveries were already sorted with the stock getting the watermelons and some of the better bananas going to the Katikati Community Centre food stall and the Katikati Primary School.

The rewards far outweigh the cost, says Val, and she has now bought a delivery truck.

"We're doing it in the name of the Legion of Frontiersmen. It's another community aspect of the Legion that you've got to do, is to change with the times."

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She says thanks to the generosity of the wholesaler we have been able to do this during lockdown to help out our community.