Making the most of the summer surplus
Rebecca Whittle, from Lancaster University, explains what is meant by a ‘glut market’, and talks about the glut market that was recently trialled at Lancaster Environment Centre – with hopes of making similar events a regular occurrence.
Late summer can be a tricky time of year for vegetable growers as back gardens and allotments begin to heave with the weight of excess produce. One way of sharing this excess produce is to run a ‘glut market’ or ‘surplus stall’.
The idea behind the glut market is a relatively simple one: at this time of year, lots of home growers find their gardens are producing more than they can use. No one likes to see waste, especially when you have grown the fruit and vegetables yourself. And yet, once you’ve exhausted the traditional avenues of making preserves, filling the freezer and passing stuff over the fence to your neighbour, you don’t have too many options other than the compost heap.
However, we know there are lots of people out there without gardens who would love a taste of something home grown. The glut market is simply a way of bringing these two groups (growers and people without gardens), together. We thought we would try running a glut market in our workplace to see how it went.
At Lancaster University we’re very lucky in that we are currently generating lots of excess produce as a result of the Students’ Union’s ‘edible campus’ initiative. So, probably about 80 per cent of the produce on our stall was grown by students right here on campus – you don’t get much more local than that! On top of this, we invited keen gardeners across campus to bring in any surplus produce from home.
We had onions, kale, new potatoes, courgettes, raspberries and some of the biggest cauliflowers I have ever seen in my life! Importantly, we also turned the glut market into a bit of a social event. Our Executive Chef, Julian Ankers, prepared some delicious tasters with seasonal produce, so lots of people stayed for lunch. We also had recipe cards available so that people could cook the food at home.
In total, we made over £130 from the event, all of which will go towards buying ‘grow-your-own’ equipment for the university’s Pre-School Centre. We also got some really lovely feedback from staff who attended. There seems to be a real desire for this kind of event to become a regular feature of life on campus, so watch this space!