Caritas campaign: saving vegetables, fruit and herbs

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With the ErnteZeit project, Caritas collects edible fruit, vegetables and herbs from gardens in Vienna and eastern Lower Austria. The donations are accepted in a total of four-day centres for people with disabilities and processed into jams, chutneys and juices.

‘We invite all people with their own garden to donate their surplus harvest. In doing so, we want to make a joint contribution to greater climate protection, waste avoidance and a more sustainable approach to our environment,’ said Klaus Schwertner, Caritas Director of the Archdiocese of Vienna, in the run-up to Food Rescue Day on May 26.

According to Caritas, the project donated almost 1,000 kilos of harvested food to Caritas in Vienna alone last year, including many apples, plums, cherries and apricots, which were turned into around 10,000 jars of jam, chutney and more. The donations will be accepted until mid-October at the Caritas centres in the 19th district of Vienna, in Schwechat, in Retz and Laa an der Thaya.

Nature conservation with orchards
‘All types and varieties are welcome,’ says the press release. The products are available for direct sale at markets, at Genuss&Co on Retzer Hauptplatz and the Caritas shop with a goat at Mariahilfer Straße 77 in Vienna.

According to the aid organisation, even those who do not own a garden can support sustainable projects that promote climate protection and biodiversity, such as the ‘Caritas orchards in Vienna and the Weinviertel region. The meadows between the fruit trees in the ‘Am Himmel’ meadow orchard are rarely and carefully mown. That’s why there are more than 60 plant species here, which also attract many rare insects and provide shelter for other animals.’

A natural garden with 62 trees and shrubs grows on the permaculture orchard in Retz. Apples, pears, quinces, figs, medlars and almonds ripen here. The fruit from both orchards is harvested by people with disabilities and processed for ‘ErnteZeit’.

Raising awareness of sustainability
Caritas has been working on the topics of social and ecological sustainability in a wide variety of areas at home and abroad for many years. ‘Our planet should remain a place worth living in for future generations. It is up to us to use the available resources conscientiously, sparingly and fairly. We take responsibility for our actions – both socially and ecologically,’ says Schwertner.

The 15 Le+O distribution points, which Caritas runs together with parishes in Vienna and Lower Austria, also distribute up to 20 tonnes of food per week to households affected by poverty that is no longer sold in shops. In the carlas, Caritas’ second-hand shops, used goods such as furniture and clothing are sold, and the proceeds are channelled into projects for the long-term unemployed.

‘Climate oases’
Last year, more than one million items were recycled at the three locations in Vienna. The aid organisation is responding to the effects of the climate crisis with ‘Climate Oases’, an offer for people affected by the crisis, but also by poverty and loneliness. Last summer, 22 parishes in Vienna and Lower Austria opened their doors and offered cool places, drinks, food and support from volunteers.

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