AUSTRALIA: Free mangoes for people in need sparked by a generous farmer’s war on waste


In a sweet gesture of generosity, a Queensland mango farmer is giving away his entire crop of juicy fruit to charities and people in need.

 

Brian Burton was taken off-guard when his bumper crop of Kensington Pride mangoes came on three weeks early.

 

“Normally we start picking now. They were all falling on the ground and I was thinking ‘what am I going to do?’ I’m never going to move them in time,” he said.

 

 

The Anderleigh farmer has since been overwhelmed by the response to his ‘pick-your-own’ mango offer and estimated that 80,000 of around 100,000 B-grade mangoes have left the farm for worthy causes.

 

“My phone just keeps ringing all the time. There are messages on Facebook I just can’t keep up with,” he said.

 

“I never thought when I put a little advertisement on a community bulletin board that it would turn into this.

 

“We’ve had people here, pretty much the last five days, just picking.”

 

Animal welfare volunteers and community workers have been amongst the grateful pickers harvesting fruit from the 2,300 mango trees in his orchard, north-east of Gympie.

 

“We’ve had a lot of single mums and the kids — it’s almost like they’ve never eaten a mango before. They’ve got mango all over their face and they come up and say ‘oh thank you, mango man’,” he said.

 

“A lot of people come that are working with the elderly, and they say at $3 a mango they can’t afford to have them.

 

“So they’re coming up and getting mangoes and taking them back for the elderly, which is really cool.”

 

Caloundra’s Rebecca Carter made the most of Mr Burton’s generous offer, picking and selling mangoes to help her daughters realise their sporting dreams.

 

“Ariana, 18, has Williams’ Syndrome (a chromosomal disorder), and 10-year-old Ainslie has autism,” Ms Carter said.

 

“They’ve both competed in swimming at the Special Olympics and got selected for the national games in Adelaide in April.”

 

So far, the family has raised $600 from the fruit towards the $7,000 it will take for pay for air flights, accommodation, uniforms and food.

 

Ms Carter’s husband Tim made a four-hour return trip to pick more mangoes today, and she was full of praise for the farmer’s generosity.

 

“I met some lovely people up there that were also picking for their causes. Everyone has the same reason to go there — to help someone else. It’s incredible,” Mr Carter said.

 

Rain-damaged fruit still tastes great

From tonnes of tomatoes to piles of pineapples, the amount of produce going to waste on Australian farms has proved a shock to many people.

 

“The wastage is phenomenal, we have to pick the best and all that unwanted fruit we have to get rid of or it just rots and smells,” he said.

 

While Mr Burton previously sold his mangoes through weekend markets and IGA stores, much of this year’s crop has skin blemishes which has not affected their taste.

 

“If you go to local markets and sell them as B-grade mangoes you can move quite a few. But it’s the time to do it — 14 to 15-hour days to pick them, wash them, sort them and take them down,” he said.

 

While he estimated he could have cleared around $10,000 on the B-grade fruit, he admitted he did not have to rely on that income.

 

Nonetheless, the giveaway may end up securing a solid market for the farm’s fruit in the future.

 

While the ABC visited the property, Mr Burton got a call from a company interested in buying next year’s crop.

 

But that was never Brian Burton’s motivation in helping those in need.

 

“We’ve had people come even picking-up the ones that have fallen on the ground and making chutneys. They end up at fetes raising money for schools,” he said.

 

“I should imagine pretty much all of this would filter back, doing something good for the community.”

 

Written by: Jennifer Nichols, ABC




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