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EFI Concludes Two-Year Produce And Reduce Pilot Program

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Last updated on April 4th, 2023 at 05:13 pm

Equitable Food Initiative and Measure to Improve have announced the completion of the two-year Produce and Reduce pilot program, which was implemented on three farming operations and funded by the California Workforce Development Board.

The group reported reductions of CO2 emissions during the pilot equivalent of 1 million miles driven by an average gasoline-powered vehicle and hopes this provides an example to be learned from and replicated throughout the industry. 

EFI produce
Windset Green Team

Measure to Improve, a sustainability consultant in the fresh produce industry, worked with EFI, a workforce development and certification organization, and the farming operations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing new waste reduction efforts.

The three participating EFI-certified operations, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce/GoodFarms, Misionero and Windset Farms, created a Green Team to assess current levels of waste, identify areas for improvement and implement training, education and other efforts to increase waste diversion from landfill.  

“The program has the potential to have a major effect on greenhouse gas reductions throughout the fresh produce industry,” said Lilian Autler, organizational and workforce development manager for EFI.

“We would not have seen this level of success without having the support of Measure to Improve, the participating farming operations, partners, and local and state government. EFI has always been a catalyst in bringing people together and this project is more proof that greater success is had when everyone has a seat at the table.”

EFI produce
Misionero Green Team

On March 8, EFI and Measure to Improve hosted a roundtable of 50 attendees, including workers and managers from the three participating farms, local waste management representatives and local officials.

Notable attendees included Rafael Aguilera on behalf of the California Workforce Development Board, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and Santa Maria Councilman Carlos Escobedo.  California State Sen. Monique Limón made remarks via video.

The roundtable event celebrated the conclusion of the grant and pilot program, highlighted final project findings and featured a discussion on ways to promote environmental sustainability in the fresh produce industry, based on project learnings, best practices and on-farm experiences. 

EFI produce
GoodFarms Green Team

Each of the three participating farms saw large reductions in amounts and types of waste and implemented revenue-positive recycling efforts. Initial results presented at the event highlighted that 144 tons of waste material were diverted from the landfill and 435 metric tons of carbon dioxide were saved.

“This program showed that sustainability efforts are most effective when a holistic approach is taken, when management is committed, and when workers at all levels know and understand the environmental impact of their actions,” said Kieran Ficken, director of sustainability programs for Measure to Improve.

“We are incredibly pleased with the results and are looking forward to sharing a full case study soon.”

For more information about Equitable Food Initiative, visit equitablefood.org.

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