Western Sydney University's Hawkesbury campus and its research partners are donating tonnes of fresh, healthy produce to Foodbank NSW and ACT to support families in need during bushfires, COVID-19 and beyond.
The donations are being made through the world-class education and research facility for Australia's protected cropping specialists, the National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre's Glasshouse, based at Hawkesbury.
Since its launch in 2017, the centre has produced more than 58 tonnes of fresh produce, such as eggplants, cucumbers and chilies from production and research trials.
The fresh produce grown in the glasshouse as part of trials into glasshouse horticulture optimisation, has proven to be a source of fresh, clean and highly-nutritious produce.
Once it has been analysed, weighed and cleaned, the produce is in an ideal condition for donating to Foodbank NSW and ACT.
Scientist at the National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre, Professor Zhonghua Chen, said WSU is focusing on supporting the Greater Western Sydney community and creating impact through its research and innovation.
"The NVPCC glasshouse delivers high-quality research outcomes that improve Australia's ability to produce food crops in advanced protected cropping systems," said Professor Chen.
"Current research includes trials of smart glass films that could save on glasshouse cooling costs, indoor pollination of crops using native stingless bees, and variety trials of eggplants, cucumbers and melons that could improve regional food production options," said Professor Chen.
Glasshouse production is so prolific that Foodbank NSW and ACT take deliveries of several full crates each week during peak harvest times.
The produce is harvested, weighed and sampled with non-destructive measures, and sorted into bulk crates. Within a day, this produce is then distributed out to families across western Sydney through the Foodbank distribution services.