Alternate Root YYC Workshop Series

The Cause

Alternate Root YYC is a Calgary initiative dedicated to preventing food waste and supporting a sustainable food system. We focus on building community by educating individuals on diverting household food waste, ultimately in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of food waste and place a stronger value on food. Our core program is a six-week workshop series, which provides a hands-on educational experience to members of the community on ways to make use of less-than-fresh produce. Hosted in a community kitchen and facilitated by a volunteer, each workshop focuses on different skills and strategies, such as cooking, canning and preserving, to help participants creatively use excess greens or over-ripe bananas, for example, rather than throwing them in the trash.

The food used in our workshops is donated by Southern Alberta producers, so we receive whatever produce they may have in excess. These producers are encouraged to donate produce that they would otherwise be unable to sell (i.e. bruised fruit or wilting greens) to also help them divert food from the landfill. This mirrors the experience of the average consumer in that we get creative and make use of whatever we happen to have on hand.

The pilot of our workshop series ran in the fall of 2015. We were well received in the community, engaging 45 participants in our workshops, and reaching many more by presenting at events or other workshops. In 2016 we hope to refine our practice and engage even more Calgarians in our workshops and this environmental movement.

Who Will it Benefit?

All Calgarians are invited and encouraged to participate in our workshops. Attendance is by donation to help us offset the costs of running the workshops; however, we provide free entry to anyone who may find cost to be a barrier to participation. Our values as an organization ensure we are inclusive and accessible to all community members.

Workshop participants benefit from learning and engaging with a food-conscious community to change their own food habits. Our participants and advocates are encouraged and empowered to pay-it-forward by spreading the knowledge of what they have learned and inspire others to look at the way they buy and use food differently. In this way, the benefits of our workshop ripple out into the broader community and help move the needle on the important environmental issue of food waste.

Food waste is a significant environmental issue that affects us all, but it has social ramifications as well. The issue of food waste is intensified by the fact that food security and access to nutritious food is a challenge for many Calgarians. As we seek to expand our participant base for our workshops, we will strive to engage more vulnerable populations through partnerships and advertising efforts. By encouraging more vulnerable populations to participate free of charge, we can help further educate and empower individuals and families to make the most of their food.