I noticed the ‘waste’ – the fresh produce we had grown, nurtured, picked washed and then thrown out because it wasn’t perfect. Throwing out or giving away fresh produce that we had grown didn’t seem to be a fair solution or result for all the hard work that had gone into producing it. It was such a waste.
Jo Bumbak, fruit and veg rescuer
Did you know?
40-60% of all fresh produce grown is deemed waste product because it doesn’t meet consumer demands.
For more than 60 years, the Bumbaks have been growing fresh produce in Carnarvon. From a young age Joanne Bumbak, who worked on the family farm before and after school, was concerned about just how much of her family’s harvest was considered unsaleable just because it didn’t look perfect (wrong size, shape or colour, or has sunburn, a scratch or blemish). A bumper mango crop in 1999 that arrived at a time of excess supply and low grower prices was the catalyst for a venture that would soon see Joanne creating all manner of delicious goods – turning the ugly into the desirable!
Having sold mangoes direct to travellers that season, one of Joanne’s customers traded fresh strawberries for a tray of mangoes.
Jo decided to make a pot of mango and strawberry jam. Another customer, a florist from Perth, smelled the jam cooking and ordered a dozen jars for her Valentine’s Day gift baskets. The seed had been sewn! She had found a new, exciting and profitable way to use up some of the waste product and… get money for jam! Today Bumbak’s Preserves and Ice Creams offer a range of homemade preserves, ice-creams, dried fruits, baked goods, gourmet rocky-road and even natural cosmetics made from ‘waste’ produce purchased from plantations along the Gascoyne River in Carnarvon – and she is making good on her goal to ‘Preserve our family’s horticultural future’.
What is she doing?
- Rescuing produce from landfill. Jo buys second-grade or waste product from approx. 20 plantations and treats it with love and care, producing 140 types of homemade preserve, 12 varieties of ice-cream, dried fruits (leathers and roll-ups), frozen mango products, baked goods (including tropical cookies, muffins, fruit cake, slices and gluten-free banana bread), 18 flavours of gourmet rocky-road, real fruit smoothies and gift boxes of preserves, dried fruits and cosmetics.
- Helping plantations to share the story of waste and tap into the tourism market. Tourists flock to the region between April and October, with many keen to visit the plantations. Joanne encourages growers to showcase and sell their produce to the visitors – especially those foodies open to the ‘paddock to plate’ movement.
- Constantly evolving product lines to meet consumer needs, and cut waste. She’s constantly researching and exploring food trends like superfoods (introducing dragon fruit products was an instant hit), collaborating and, most importantly, creating tempting new flavour combinations that fly off the shelves and into appreciative tummies!
Listen to Jo talk about what she does to cut waste. Courtesy 6PR
What impact is she making?
- 40 tonnes of fruit and vegetables are rescued each year from landfill
- She’s giving growers with an income for products that would otherwise be dumped – adding value for the horticultural industry.
- A new local market for high-quality and innovative products has been created in Carnarvon – appealing to the tourism market.
What does the future hold for Jo?
While there’s fruit and veg being dumped, Jo will continue to innovate and tackle the issue of waste, kilo by kilo.
With plans to keep growing the business, she’s also committed to keeping a finger on the pulse of emerging food trends and working with local growers – both of which have proven to be a constant source of inspiration for new products.
How can YOU get on board?
They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts – and that’s certainly true when it comes to fruit and veg! Instead of leaving the not-so-perfect products on the market shelves or tossing past-their-prime produce already in your kitchen into the compost, embrace the ‘ugly’ and ‘old’ and turn it into something delicious:
- Overripe bananas can be made into banana bread, smoothies and much, much more
- Gather up all the ‘limp’ veggies in the crisper and turn them into a soup or casserole
- ‘Bubble and squeak’ is an old-fashioned favourite making a return to dining tables (mix together cooked vegetables like carrots and peas with cabbage and mashed potato, form into patties and pan-fry until hot and crisp)
- Got a glut of fruit or veggies from your garden? Channel your inner domestic diva and learn to make jams, jellies, coulis, sauces, chutneys, pickles, fermented foods (like sauerkraut or kimchi) and ice-creams
- Find out more about getting involved in reducing waste