Regional | Community

‘Ugly’ fruit and veggie shop sells out in half an hour on first day

The Beautification Trust, a South Auckland community organisation, has partnered with food collective FoodTogether to open a pop-up shop at Manurewa selling “ugly” veggies and fruits - fresh food produce that are sometimes a little “wonky” and misshapen and don’t make their way into supermarket shelves.

At $15 a bag, it’s a steal, says community programmes manager Sterling Ruwhiu (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou).

The objective of the pop-up is two-fold. “Kia whakaiti ki tō mātou para,” she says. (To reduce our wastage).

Secondly, it’s about “addressing the impacts of the cost of living crisis at the moment,” Beatification Trust chief executive Daniel Barthow says.

The pop-up shop will be open three hours every Thursday for the next six weeks from 11am. “If you can, haere mai,” says Ruwhiu.

Cost of living crisis

Community activator Rohit Sawhney says people can also choose to pre-order their bags and the organisation will also look to start a subscription service after the initial six weeks. He is happy with the turnout on the first day.

“You can see the queues out there right? People are loving it because there is so much value for the community,” he says.

Those who came along agreed.

“I have just come back to Aotearoa from Melbourne and I have noticed a big price change,” Lorenzo Emery says.

“Especially the price of fruits and veggies. It’s outrageous now,” says Irena Hipi. “$15 a bag, why not, āe?” she says, adding she’ll be taking a lot of fruits for her daughter.

“I am all about saving money where I can. I saw this on Facebook and I thought it was a great opportunity,” says another customer Simone Brock. “I thought it would be a smaller bag of produce but this is really big,” she says.

Sold out

The shop was supposed to close at two in the afternoon but “we sold out in half an hour,” says volunteer Stephen Brown.

“I am sure there were over 100 people. It was great,” he adds.

The Beautification Trust says the first six weeks is a pilot programme and, if the project is popular in the community, it will continue after that. Going by the response on its first day, that looks very likely.