As citrus fruit floods grocery stores ahead of the holidays, thousands of imperfect oranges typically end up in B.C. landfills. Luckily, there is ReFeed Farms, a “nutrient upcycling company”. Stuart Lilley, founder of the company works to divert food waste to food banks and livestock through its Langley composting facility, using whatever is left to create a natural fertilizer.
It’s a departure from industrial composting that’s led to almost 225 tons, or 500,000 pounds, of food going to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank over the last year. The company hopes the model can be exported to other regions to reduce food waste.
Lilley calls himself a “disrupter.” But the way he’s disrupting the food system aligns with what a food system is supposed to do — that is, feed people. In a way, ReFeed is a big regrading facility, pulling good, but sometimes ugly or small, produce from food waste and sending it to the food bank, like avocados that were half-a-centimetre too small for sale or green grapes that went unsold in summer. Other diverted food goes into “bounty boxes” for low-income families.