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Sharing surplus to support the elderly

Surplus produce donated via The SEDE project

Julie Lamplugh has started a community project that sees elderly receive fresh produce from the surplus of local people’s gardens. The initiative has taken off and, in a mere four and a half weeks, has spread from Rangiora to Kaiapoi.

Julie hopes to see The SEDE project (Supporting the enrichment of elderly diets) pop up in communities all over the country.

After seeing her elderly parents unable to manage their once thriving garden. Julie started to take the excess from her own garden to share with them.

One day, it struck her just how excited her Mum was to be able to have fresh beans from Julie’s garden with her lunch.

This coincided with a story in The Press newspaper that bothered Julie, about an elderly man who was going without lunch because he couldn’t afford the rising food costs.

Believing there must be something she can do to help, she posted on her local community page and The SEDE project was born.

Her idea is that home gardeners  like her, can simply share the surplus from their gardens with local elderly people who can no longer manage their own gardens.

“I have been amazed by the response,” says Julie. “The response happened quicker than I ever expected.”

People obviously want to help; they just don’t know how. And this is a way people can help without it costing them anything!”


With a steadily growing number of pensioners who wish to be recipients, often out of economic necessity, Julie has devised a couple of ways where people can help.

There are two options. The first involves Julie linking a local home gardener with a local elderly person, one-on-one, for ongoing/regular donations of surplus produce.

This works very well, but there are often instances where other home gardeners wish to make a one-off donation of produce (the second option), usually of an amount that is too much for one pensioner, and often only one type of fruit or vegetable.

She has resolved this by arranging for groups of pensioners who live near each other, usually within a retirement village, to receive these one-off donations from gardeners and share it out among themselves.

“Both systems are working well,” says Julie. “It’s just a matter of getting enough gardeners and trying manage the need.”

Julie explains that not only are the elderly delighted to receive fresh produce, but it is also building connections within the community. It saves on food wastage and hugely supports diet enrichment.

Donated produce by a home gardener to an elderly person

“There is such a need,” says Julie. “The elderly are often sidelined and not seen in our communities. And these are our elders, our leaders!”

Julie goes on to say that this is a generation of people who really value fruit and vegetables, rather than fast food.

Due to economic constraints, mobility and accessibility issues, as well as pride, elderly people will often go without.

“This [sharing of excess food] is what people used to do,” says Julie. “It’s just going back to basics.”

Julie hopes The SEDE project with inspire people all over New Zealand to set up their own home gardens.

Not only will their food bill become much more affordable but also, she hopes people will consider passing on any surplus to a local elderly person.

“You really only need a tiny garden to make a huge difference,” she says.

Julie has also had a person, who was unable to work on their sizeable garden due to time constraints, offer their land to gardeners within the community who were willing to utilise the space and then share the produce with people in need.

As the project gains traction, and home gardeners elsewhere initiate the sharing of produce with pensioners themselves, Julie asks they please give her feedback (including photos of shared produce) to help her further promote The SEDE Project and continue to see it grow.

In the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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For more information:

Please visit The SEDE project on FaceBook


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