From rescuing food to growing food; this week (Monday 8 November) Eddie Welsh will leave the staff of the Waiheke Resources Trust. The well-liked part-time Kai Conscious food rescuer has been overwhelmed with orders for veggie seedlings through his home business Starter Plants. Living two lives as a horticulturist and grower as well as a food rescue hero has brought him too far out of retirement.

“I set Starter Plants up as a fun project to help the community grow food. I never expected it to be such a success. I’m thrilled to see people so enthusiastic about growing veggies and I have thoroughly enjoyed passing on advice at the Ostend Market to first-time growers.

“But to continue raising seedlings for the community, something’s got to give. I will no longer be doing the food rescue run twice a week, although I will definitely be back at the Kai Conscious Café as soon as it reopens.”

Eddie became a well-known community figure in his Kai Conscious uniform, dropping food donations to the pensioner village, Budgeting Services Trust and even down at Putiki Bay’s camp kororā. He has been particularly relied on by Kai Conscious Coordinator Kathy Voyles.

“We have been very lucky to have Eddie,” says Kathy. “He has an exceptional manner with the community plus he makes the best salsas. He’s one of those people who always says “yes” and helps everyone he can. We know we’ll continue to see him at the Centre and he will be cooking up a storm at our cafe again one day, so we are not too sad.

“I think what his departure really shows is Waiheke’s growing commitment to food resilience. Food rescue is one aspect, and we are certainly busy with that, but the huge number of veggie seedlings going into people’s gardens this spring, thanks to Eddie’s fabulous supply, is amazing.”

As news spread in the Kai Conscious community of Eddie’s departure, several hands went up to help. It is a special thing when people reach out to support food rescue, knowing how much it is needed. And following interviews, WRT can announce that longtime local Teresa Quin is being welcomed onto the team.

Teresa has been involved in the Kai Conscious project as a volunteer cook and she has a real commitment to the environmental and social benefits of keeping good food out of landfill and providing it to the community. Teresa has also worked as a Waiheke Local Board Assistant.

“The timing was perfect for me as I have been looking for a way to get more involved in the food rescue space, and the idea of being able to support the community I live in is such a wonderful opportunity. I know Eddie and I realise I’ll have to win some hearts — but I’m ready for the challenge and so delighted to join the WRT crew,” said Teresa.

Since the project began in 2018, Kai Conscious has rescued over 61 tonnes of food which has gone to those who need it most in the Waiheke community. During lockdowns, food rescue is considered an essential service so the work doesn’t stop, and the demand for food donations has only increased. In these tough times putting food on the table is more important than ever and throwing good kai into landfill has become less and less acceptable.

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